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Pearl Verses The World

At school, Pearl feels as though she is in a group of one. Her teacher wants her to write poems that rhyme but Pearl's poems don't. At home, however, Pearl feels safe and loved, but her grandmother is slowly fading, and so are Mum and Pearl. When her grandmother eventually passes away, Pearl wants life to go back to the way it was and refuses to talk at the funeral. But she finds the courage to deliver a poem for her grandmother that defies her teacher's idea of poetry - her poem doesn't rhyme; it comes from the heart.
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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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