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May 04

Review: Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy

I received this book for free from ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Pearl Verses the World by Sally MurphyPearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy
Published by Walker Books Australia on 01-01-2009
Genres: fiction, junior fiction
Pages: 79
Source: ARC received from publisher
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A moving illustrated verse novel about a girl dealing with isolation at school, and with her grandma's illness at home. 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.

Pearl feels isolated and alone. She sees herself as a group of one – separate and disconnected from her classmates. She lives with her mother and grandmother, but her grandmother’s gradual decline is threatening the one place where Pearl feels safe and loved.

At school, Pearl struggles with lessons where the teacher is encouraging them to write poetry. Pearl loves to write, but feels restricted by the structured format that the teacher wants in her poetry.

When Pearl’s grandmother dies, Pearl refuses to speak at the funeral. On the day, she surprises herself by sharing a poem. This poem isn’t the structured rhyming style taught by her teacher however, but a poem from the heart inspired by her grandmother – a poem that came when it was needed.

Pearl verses the World is an incredibly touching story of a young girl whose experiences at home leave her feeling distant from her peers at school. Through her writing, Pearl is able to really express herself, but the rules and structure imposed by the teacher leave her feeling stifled and frustrated.

The illustrated free verse format of this novel suits the personal storyline perfectly. The verse conveys emotions and impressions with touching simplicity, creating a powerful emotional imagery uncluttered by excess physical descriptions.

The illustrations by Heather Potter compliment the story beautifully, ensuring the younger readers are given the visual prompts they need to supplement the story.

I thought this story was incredibly touching in its simplicity and honesty. Pearl is made vulnerable by her isolation, yet also incredibly strong by her relationship with her mother and grandmother. Her child-like outlook brings some very difficult and painful issues back to a very basic level.

I would highly recommend this book for primary school-aged children, particularly girls, who have an elderly family member who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia or as a prompt for class discussions about these issues.

Visit Adele at Persnickety Snark for an interview with the author, Sally Murphy.

Recommended for readers aged 7+ years.

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1 comment

  1. Adele

    Well that review just put my own to shame. Very nice.

    Thank you also for the link 🙂

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