cover image A Single Pearl

A Single Pearl

Donna Jo Napoli, illus. by Jim LaMarche. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-4557-8

Inspired by a Persian poem, this resonant book from the creators of Albert follows a grain of sand’s metamorphosis into a pearl. Napoli’s lyrical narrative imbues the tiny grain with emotions. When it becomes lodged in an oyster, it “would have curled in despair, if sand could curl.” And as the oyster coats it with shiny layers over the years, forming a shimmering pearl, the grain of sand “felt more and more alone and lost.” The melancholy tone lightens considerably after a diver plucks the oyster from the ocean floor and sells the pearl to a prince; he gives it to his wife, who later passes it on to her daughter. The princess treasures the pearl, and the grain of sand finally feels it has reached “home.” LaMarche’s acrylic and colored pencil illustrations effectively dramatize a remarkable natural transformation and demonstrate a striking sense of light, whether in sunlight filtering down to the seabed or the moonlight under which the princess dances. Although chiefly a story about finding purpose, Napoli’s writing gently informs, with subtle details about oysters, fishing, and the creation of pearls. Ages 3–7. (June)