Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy deals with a difficult subject – the death of a grandparent – in a hopeful way. The book starts with Pearl in school, listing the different groups of children in her class. I am in a group of one, she says. This is because she spends all her time at school worrying about what’s going on at home, where Mom is looking after Granny. Pearl remembers all the fun things she used to do with Granny, but now Granny doesn’t know who she is. The class teacher, Miss Bruff, wants the children to write verse which rhymes. It doesn’t have to, thinks Pearl, although she can produce this:
There was a young lady called Pearl Who was not a rhyming type girl. She said, “I’ve no time For poems that rhyme,” Which made her poor teacher go hurl.
At school, In the fiction corner there are pink books full of princesses and girls who want to be princesses and black books about bad boys and brave boys and brawny boys. Where is the book about a girl whose poems don’t rhyme and whose Granny is fading?
Pearl dreads Granny’s funeral but at the last moment delivers a eulogy in (non-rhyming) verse. Her teacher says how good it was and then tells the class that verse doesn’t have to rhyme. Reformation of Miss Bruff! And Pearl starts to think of Granny ‘somewhere’, no longer old and ill. The illustrations by Heather Potter are charming and the poetic element in the book makes it quite different from most issues books for children.
The book is published by The Candlewick Press and I read it on the Kindle thanks to NetGalley.