Pearl feels like an island in school, isolated and alone, but at home she feels loved and secure until her grandmother's illness changes the way Pearl views her world.
From the Publisher
At school, Pearl is a group of one, and at home her beloved granny is fading. A poignant gem of a tale about independence, grief, and finding your place.
Pearl likes to write poems, but despite the insistence of her teacher, Ms. Bruff, Pearl's poems don't rhyme, and neither does she. She wishes she could grow gills so she could stay underwater in swim class without drowning. And she hasn't a clue why perfect Prudence bumps her desk and sends her pencils flying. Pearl thinks there's no nicer sound than the bell at the end of the day, even though back at home, Granny, always a crucial part of their family of three, sometimes doesn't recognize Pearl, and Mom is tired from providing constant care. In a lyrical novel told with clear-eyed sympathy, humor, and heart, Sally Murphy follows a girl who holds fast to her individuality even as she learns to let go-- and in daring to share her voice, discovers that maybe she's not a group of one after all.
August 23, 2011
1st U.S. ed.
73 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Potter, Heather, illustrator.
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Reviews & Awards
- Horn Book Magazine, 09/01/11
- Horn Book Magazine, 04/01/12
- Kirkus Reviews starred, 07/15/11
- School Library Journal, 09/01/11
- Wilson's Children, 10/01/12
Horn Book Guide starred (Spring 2012)
In this extended free-verse monologue, Pearl tells of her grandmother's last days and dementia-related death. The voice is unpretentious, and Murphy accords Pearl real dignity in her grief. Personality-rich pencil-and-ink drawings support the gentle tone. The book's comfort, the truth that bereavement changes relationships, and sometimes for the better, is at just the right pitch for Pearl and for her readers.
Read all 4 full-text reviews …
Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2011)
In this extended monologue in free verse form, Pearl, who seems to be about eight years old, tells the story of the last days and eventual death of her grandmother from dementia. The voice is unpretentious, and Murphy accords Pearl real dignity in her grief. "There are three people at our house: / me, / my mom, / and Granny. / And that's how it's always been. / They took her away / when I was at school / and I didn't get to say good-bye." This gentle tone is matched and supported by personality-rich pencil-and-ink drawings. A subplot involving a teacher who insists that poetry must rhyme is less convincing than one that deals with Pearl having always felt like a loner at school. The comfort of the book, the truth that bereavement changes all our relationships, and sometimes for the better, is at just the right pitch for Pearl and for her readers. sarah ellis
Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2011)
In this poignantly illustrated novella in free verse, a young girl reckons with the loss of her grandmother. Australian artists Murphy and Potter team up here to depict the story of Pearl Barrett, a budding poet and loner whose loving household-consisting of her mother, grandmother and herself-gets rocked to the core when she finds her granny "doesn't remember who we are." Though Pearl feels "[w]herever I am / no one sees me" and "my poems don't rhyme / and neither do I," such feelings of isolation only intensify as she wrestles with sadness, fear and anger on learning her mother is contemplating moving Granny to a nursing facility. When her failing grandmother dies, Pearl learns the important lesson that, through loss, one may not only find compassion but community. Potter's evocative pencil-and-wash drawings, with their excellent renderings of facial expressions and mood, wonderfully complement Murphy's thoughtful narrative in depicting the emotions of a scene. Altogether, the tale has much to offer in terms of grappling with personal identity as well as the death of a beloved. A tender, therapeutic treatment of loss, perfect for children dealing with the baffling complexities of adult dementia. (Poetry. 8-12)
School Library Journal (September 1, 2011)
Gr 2-4-"My poems don't rhyme, and neither do I." Pearl feels lonely. She doesn't fit in with the ballet girls, the library kids, the bus kids, or the rough kids. She can't write the rhyming poems that her teacher prefers. She longs to be at home with her mother and her Granny, where she feels safe and loved. These days Pearl's mother is always tired, and readers learn that she is caring for Pearl's ailing Granny ".I think she's in there. If only she could come out to play." The possibility of moving her into a care home is mentioned, but before Pearl can figure out how to "save" her, her grandmother dies. Children will grieve with Pearl and share in her special moment when she reads a poem (that doesn't rhyme) at the funeral. Her freedom to express her feelings marks a new time in her life of openness and a sense of beginning to connect with the people around her. This gentle, tender story is written in verse to wonderful effect and the plot moves along as freely as the words flow. Visually, this book is tremendously accessible, even for younger readers. Words like "swirling" and "swinging" are set in different type, as if they are moving on the pages. Potter's artwork melds well with the text; children will be able to understand Pearl's emotions better by looking at the expressive faces, and the illustrations serve as a counterpoint to the poignant, delicate narrative. This book is strongly recommended for a study of aging, dementia, and grief. It would be well placed in school counselors' offices as well as in public libraries.-Alison Donnelly, Collinsville Memorial Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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