Book Review: Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley
There are plenty of childrenâ€™s books based on friendship. Itâ€™s an important topic, so I donâ€™t mind. Some books about friendship show rather than tell – they don’t explain how the process works, but show it in action. I think of the recent â€œDog and Bearâ€ books as an example. This is effective because a story about friendship is usually more interesting than a nuts and bolts examination. â€œPearl Barley and Charlie Parsleyâ€ goes the nuts and bolts route with unquestionable success. If you can find a more honest, well-written picture book about friendship this year, please send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The story (originally released in Australia) is not groundbreaking. Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley are two friends who could not be more different. Pearl is outgoing and fun-loving, while Charlie is quiet and cautious. After explaining the differences between the two, the narrator gets to the heart of the matter â€“ that they are great friends precisely because of their opposite personalities. Author/illustrator Aaron Blabey manages to tell this story without ever falling into the saccharine zone of no return. The spot-on writing is plainly stated and economical.
The warm acrylic and mixed media illustrations focus on the characters. Pearl and Charlie are almost always depicted in full body view with a minimum of background clutter. With this decision, Blabey smartly focuses in on the relationship between our two main characters.
“Pearl Barley…” is a book about friends that reads like a breath of fresh air. Simple and effective. Highly recommended.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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