#WorldKidLit Wednesday: Pearl of the Sea

Set in South Africa, Pearl of the Sea* is a beautifully illustrated coming-of-age graphic novel for upper middle grade and YA readers. Pearl, whose mother abandoned the family long before the start of the story, lives with her father, Vernon—a restaurant owner and chef who is sinking deeper and deeper into financial trouble—and her beloved one-eyed mutt Moby.  Ocean-loving Pearl would much rather dive than go to school, where she doesn’t fit in and feels uncomfortable, although she does have a crush on her BFF Naomi.

Early on, Pearl’s father announces they’ll have to move to a busier town so that he can earn a living. She then tries to support the family by working for abalone poachers.  One day while diving in a restricted underwater area, she encounters a wounded sea monster. In classic Aesops fashion, she removes harpoons festooning the monster, helping the ancient creature heal. She names him Otto and the two become close friends.

When the poachers secretly follow her and try to capture Otto, Pearl saves him. News of a sea-monster sighting brings tourists back to their town, the restaurant is saved, Pearl discovers her crush on Naomi is requited, and she finds the courage to let her dad know she isn’t interested in boys.

Pearl of the Sea touches on a number of topics, ranging from overfishing and poaching to abandonment and friendship, identity and agency. Yet it isn’t bogged down by those weighty themes. With vivid illustrations, a sympathetic protagonist, and swift pacing, it’s a heartwarming adventure tale and a satisfying read.

Pearl of the Sea
Written by Anthony Silverston and Raffaella Delle Donne
Illustrated by Willem Samuel
ISBN:  ‎978-1946395740
Release date: January 31, 2023 Catalyst Press

Reviews: Kirkus; Publishers Weekly

You can buy a copy here.*

*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher. Book purchases made via our affiliate link may earn GLLI a small commission at no cost to you.

Award-winning opera singer Nanette McGuinness is the translator of over 90 books and graphic novels for children and adults from French, Italian, German and Spanish into English, including the well-known Geronimo Stilton Graphic NovelsTwo of her translationsLuisa: Now and Then and California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas were chosen for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens; Luisa: Now and Then was also a 2019 Stonewall Honor Book. Recent translations include Magical History Tour: Slavery; LGBTQ manga Sirius: Twin Stars; The Sisters: My New Big Sister; Alice on the Run: One Child’s Journey Through the Rwandan Civil WarRosa ParksMagical History Tour: First Steps on the MoonTiki: A Very Ruff Year; Makhno: Ukrainian Freedom Fighter; Chloe Green Thumb; and the critically acclaimed A House Without Windows.

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