Review Blog

Jun 03 2009

Pearl verses the world by Sally Murphy

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Walker Books, 2009. ISBN 9781 921150937
(Ages 8-12) Pearl is in a group of one at her school, everyone else is in larger groups. In class when her teacher asks them to write a poem, it is expected that it rhymes, and Pearl can only do non rhyming poems. At home, her mother cares for her grandmother, now unable to get out of bed, and needing constant care by Pearl and her mother. Pearl's grandmother was her great friend, but now, she hardly knows she is there. Mum is at a loss to know the right thing to do.
At school Pearl is upset by one of the girls in her class, who is spiteful and jealous. When the principal comes to take Pearl to her office, she is convinced that she is about to be admonished for something, but instead she is told that her gran has died. There follows the funeral and to her surprise her teacher attends, telling Pearl's mum how good she is at essays and poems. Initially Pearl did not want to speak at the funeral, but the night before she becomes inspired and writes out a poem to read.
Returning to school, Pearl finds that her classmates are friendlier and the boy, Michael wants to be her friend. Her teacher praises Pearl's poetry and asks the whole class to write a non rhyming poem too.
A delightful story, Pearl is an endearing character who invites the readers' sympathy for her situation both at school and at home. It is a circumstance with which many readers will identify, and the outcome, handled so well in this non rhyming set of poems, is as predictable as it is compassionate. This little book will engender many discussions about death and dying, bullying and friendship in middle to upper primary schools.
Fran Knight

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