Little Pearl

Floris. Apr. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781782505990.
Gr 1-3–In this Swedish import, a little boy asks his babysitter for a bedtime story. Holding out her hand, Grace launches into a fantastical account of how she acquired her glowing, pearl ring. The convoluted tale starts with the mysterious disappearance of Grace’s older brother, and then suddenly shifts to her sledding down into an icy tunnel and waking up in an Alice in Wonderland-like world. Gigantic insects speak in rhyming malapropisms, saying “shrug” instead of “bug”; “unraveling” instead of “traveling”; and “Little Pearl” instead of “girl.” Grace is taken for a ride on a lily pad pulled by huge trout, and enjoys a sightseeing trip on the back of a dragonfly, before being captured by an evil, oversize crab, who forces her to pry open razor-sharp clamshells and steal the “precious white balls” inside. The surreal adventures are brought to life in Dziubak’s stunning, colored pencil illustrations. With dark backgrounds showcasing bright botanical and floral details, the intriguing scenes have a classically romantic appearance. Densely written paragraphs relay Grace’s reunion with her missing sibling, and a triumphant escape from the clutches of their captor.
VERDICT The luminous, painterly illustrations are the standout gem in this text-heavy translation.

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