Pearl of the Sea

Catalyst. Jan. 2023. 168p. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781946395740.
Gr 5 Up–Silverton, Delle Donne, and Samuel present a heartwarming, adventurous sea tale. Since her mother left the family, Pearl (who has brown skin) spends her free time snorkeling for crayfish with her one-eyed dog, Moby, in her coastal hometown. When Pearl finds out that her father is at risk of losing their home, she does a favor for local poachers who help her bring home some extra cash. During one of her dives in an unrestricted area, Pearl meets a huge tentacled sea creature she names Otto. As Pearl spends time with Otto, she learns that he has a past from which he is hiding. Pearl is a lovable character. She’s brave in the way that she jumps in immediately to help her father when they’re in money trouble and caring to Otto when she nurses him back to health upon their first encounter. Secondary characters like Moby bring humor to the story while Pearl’s father and friend/crush Naomi support Pearl’s growth from a loner to someone who needs and deserves community. As Otto and Pearl become friends, they embark on confronting Otto’s past; this in return helps Pearl learn to open up and deal with the pain she has from the absence of her mother. Stunning, vibrant illustrations with deep hues of color bring Pearl’s sea adventure to life.
VERDICT A fast-paced graphic novel about making friends in unlikely places and opening up your heart after experiencing grief.

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