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Pearl

HarperCollins/Clarion. (Gossie & Friends). Feb. 2024. 32p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780547867595.
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PreS-Gr 1–A new addition in the “Gossie & Friends” series of preschool picture books—this one is about Pearl. “This is Pearl. Pearl is the smallest gosling with the biggest voice, who loves to sing.” These lines appear on a plain white background, where a small black duck with a golden bill opens her (gendered by the author) beak and sings to the ewe a sleeping song, and a “slurping song” to the piglets. She sings loudly to the mole. Pearl sings everywhere! In seven charming spreads, children will understand that Pearl loves to sing. The real story begins when a small frog jumps into Pearl’s mouth and she croaks. Literally. Now Pearl cannot sing. For six more spreads, readers learn of the devastation that finally ends when a piglet exclaims, “Sing, Pearl, sing!” Pearl opens her mouth and the frog jumps out. Pearl’s universe is as snug as can be, even in the silent scenes. Dunrea can be counted on to draw children in deeper and deeper, but the story is so slight. Pearl’s desolation is real; so is it about investing in friendships because the piglet nudges Pearl’s recovery? Or is this just a gosling who sings, then does not, then does?
VERDICT It’s very hard to push Pearl aside, but the pacing favors those who ask little more of their plotting than page turns.

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