cover image Pearl of the Sea

Pearl of the Sea

Anthony Silverston and Raffaella Delle Donne, illus. by Willem Samuel. Catalyst, $19.95 paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-946395-74-0

Teenage diver Pearl befriends an octopean sea monster of mythical proportions in this uplifting graphic novel. Pearl lives with her father and one-eyed dog Moby in a small town on the South African coast; her mother left the family years before, causing Pearl to withdraw from her father and community. Though Pearl reluctantly attends school and pines after her crush, Naomi, she would rather spend her time fishing for and selling abalone to help pay bills, which have piled up ever since her father lost his job. While swimming in restricted waters, she meets Otto, a giant sea creature living in an underwater shipwreck. Though she initially perceives Otto as frightening, Pearl comes to realize he’s not as scary as he seems, and they become fast friends. But Otto has been hiding for a reason, and when he’s suddenly endangered, it’s up to Pearl to save him. Full-color illustrations by Samuel depict ethereal ocean depths in deep navy and electric blue hues. Pearl’s struggles with loneliness and feelings of being an outsider are rendered via Silverston and Delle Donne’s empathetic and humorous dialogue, making for a winning story of friendship, nature, and trust. Ages 10–13. (Jan.)