The Nerviest Girl in the World

Melissa Wiley, illus. by Mike Deas. Knopf, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-375-87038-5
Pearl, 11, lives on a cattle and ostrich ranch outside San Diego, where she helps to tend temperamental ostriches, learned to ride horses early on, and rivaled her older brothers on horseback by the time she was nine. The brothers’ advanced riding skills get them recruited to play “Death-Defying Cowboys” in the new moving pictures. When Pearl visits the set and her horse spooks, her ability to remount the galloping animal earns her a part in the director’s next film. Pearl learns to act on the job (“Can you show me scared instead of stomachache-y?”) and begins her career doing parts that require stunts, such as jumping out of a window and even shinnying down a rope out of a hot air balloon. Along the way, she discovers a passion for acting and navigates relationships with her difficult brother, as well as Mary, a town girl jealous of Pearl’s film roles. Lively illustrations by Deas mirror the heart, humor, and bravery of Pearl herself. Set in the early 20th century and inspired by real-life silent-film star Pearl White, Wiley’s (The Prairie Thief) vivid snapshot of cinema’s early days, as well as Pearl’s life on the ranch, offers warmth and wit. Ages 8–12. Agent: Liza Voges, Eden Street Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/18/2020
Release date: 08/18/2020
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 208 pages - 978-0-375-97037-5
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