09 August 2009

Pearl Verses the World

by Sally Murphy. Illustrated by Heather Potter

Walker Books Australia. Junior, Australian. Paperback rrp $14.95

Pearl Verses the World is a wonderful introduction for children who have never encountered a verse novel before. Verse novels are ideally suited for middle to upper primary readers. The reader becomes personally involved in a stream of consciousness conversation with the main character and the story quickly becomes very real.

Pearl feels alone. She doesn’t fit in at school. ‘My class is made up of groups. I am in a group of one.’ At home, her grandmother is very ill and the close family unit of grandmother, mother and daughter is unravelling.

Pearl’s teacher wants her to write poems that rhyme but Pearl hears a different rhythm. When her grandmother dies, she finally finds the words to express how she feels. Her world has changed but she discovers a new place to belong and her group of one is slowly expanding.

I read this story to my primary school son and it opened his eyes in many ways. We talked about death. About belonging. About ‘poem books’. Reading Pearl Verses the World aloud together was a rich, rewarding experience.

This book is special. A beautiful story about coping with grief and loss, expertly written for younger readers. A gentle and uplifting life lesson for all ages.


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