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A Single Pearl

Overview


In a vast ocean, a single grain of sand seems hopelessly small and unimportant.
But over time, the sand begins to change. Layer by layer, it grows and transforms. Its beauty starts to shine.

Exquisitely crafted by an award-winning author-illustrator team, this luminous, uplifting story reminds us of the amazing capacity for change within ...
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Overview


In a vast ocean, a single grain of sand seems hopelessly small and unimportant.
But over time, the sand begins to change. Layer by layer, it grows and transforms. Its beauty starts to shine.

Exquisitely crafted by an award-winning author-illustrator team, this luminous, uplifting story reminds us of the amazing capacity for change within us all.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
From the Publisher
Based on a medieval Persian poem, this story of discovering self-worth is told through the emotional journey of a lowly grain of sand. It falls to the bottom of the sea, feeling alone and worthless and ends up in an oyster shell, where it becomes an irritant to its host. But when a diver discovers the oyster and the beautiful pearl inside, everything changes. The pearl is set in the necklace of a beloved daughter, bringing joy and laughter to her and the tiny grain of sand at the pearl's heart. The illustrations move from muted pastels of the sea to warm golden tones once the gem enters the world of humans. The acrylics and colored pencils give fluidity to each drawing; there are no hard edges here. Even as the grain of sand feels lost and alone, his world swirls with life and beauty. This is a thoughtful reminder that everything matters.- Edie Ching—Booklist Online

A potentially charming tale about a perfect pearl that takes form from a simple grain of sand is laden with heavy-handed life lessons. The grain becomes embedded in an oyster and is slowly coated with protective layers until a diver brings it up, discovers the beautiful pearl it has become and sets it on a journey that carries it home to a lovely young princess. The tale might have succeeded as a story of how the pearl became the imperial jewel of Persia, the nominal plot, but Napoli missteps by endowing the grain of sand with deep emotions of hopelessness and helplessness and, eventually, love and joy. The message that each person has the ability to change and grow is clearly intended to be uplifting and encouraging. However, all the changes to the grain of sand come about naturally: It does not make itself into a pearl; that outcome is accomplished by the oyster and time. Moreover, a pearl has no value beyond what humans place upon it. The princess loves the pearl, certainly with no thought to the grain of sand at its center. LaMarche's lovely illustrations, rendered in acrylic paint and colored pencil in a palette of pink, purple and turquoise, with appropriately luminescent pearls, transcend the weaknesses of the text. A well-meaning tale is overwhelmed by an over-the-top attempt at inspiration. (Picture book. 4-7)—Kirkus

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.—PW

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In poetic, fairy-tale-like language, Napoli tells the story of the evolution and fate of a grain of sand dropped into the ocean. It feels worthless until it is sucked into an oyster and over time becomes a pearl. Found by a lucky diver, the grain/pearl brings a lot of money. The prince who buys it gives it to his beloved wife, who saves it for her lovely daughter. The grain/pearl, feeling her warmth and love, laughs in joy. Pearls become "the imperial jewel of choice in all Persia. The grain of sand sat in the center of the pearl. And it mattered." With acrylic paints and colored pencils LaMarche creates a cast of appealing characters amid naturalistic settings. His undersea world provides staging for the dance-like oyster hunting and the assorted fish. On land, the young woman does her own dreamy dance by the sea in the light of a very large moon. The romantic story also reveals an explanation of the formation of a pearl. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
This is a visually exquisite book with fill page illustrations guaranteed to appeal, through color and subject, to the princess lovers in your community. The story, by award-winning writer Napoli, traces the origin of a pearl from a grain of sand to precious jewel. Much like Lionni's Swimmy, the grain of sand feels small and worthless in the huge ocean and the vastness of the ocean bottom. Then the grain of sand becomes part of an oyster that "coats the sand with a shiny layer, year after year." Of course, young readers will not know that the layers are somewhat less appetizing than the description, but it speaks to the core of specialness that within each of us. Over the course of time, the lovely pearl is retrieved by a pearl diver and bought by a prince for his beloved wife who, in turn, saves it for her daughter to wear around her neck. The pictures of the royal family are especially winning. The princess's eyes pick up the gleam of the pearl. The princess as a new mother has a look of ecstatic bliss on her face as she cradles her newborn daughter. Finally, the hazel-eyed child cradles the lovely pearl in her fingers with a dream-filled expression. The story finishes with a happy ending for the grain of sand, now the imperial jewel of Persian, and a picture of the young princess dancing on the beach with her pearl necklace at her throat. There is nothing ordinary about this story or its pictures. It is as special as the grain of sand that became the pearl. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
Kirkus Reviews
A potentially charming tale about a perfect pearl that takes form from a simple grain of sand is laden with heavy-handed life lessons. The grain becomes embedded in an oyster and is slowly coated with protective layers until a diver brings it up, discovers the beautiful pearl it has become and sets it on a journey that carries it home to a lovely young princess. The tale might have succeeded as a story of how the pearl became the imperial jewel of Persia, the nominal plot, but Napoli missteps by endowing the grain of sand with deep emotions of hopelessness and helplessness and, eventually, love and joy. The message that each person has the ability to change and grow is clearly intended to be uplifting and encouraging. However, all the changes to the grain of sand come about naturally: It does not make itself into a pearl; that outcome is accomplished by the oyster and time. Moreover, a pearl has no value beyond what humans place upon it. The princess loves the pearl, certainly with no thought to the grain of sand at its center. LaMarche's lovely illustrations, rendered in acrylic paint and colored pencil in a palette of pink, purple and turquoise, with appropriately luminescent pearls, transcend the weaknesses of the text. A well-meaning tale is overwhelmed by an over-the-top attempt at inspiration. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423145578
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 6/18/2013
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 968,645
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Donna Jo Napoli teaches linguistics at Swarthmore College and is the author of numerous books for young readers of all ages, including Alligator Bayou, an ALA Top Ten Book and winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award; The King of Mulberry Street, a Sydney Taylor Award Honor book; and Treasury of Greek Mythology, an ALA Notable book. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Jim LaMarche has illustrated several acclaimed picture books, including Albert by Donna Jo Napoli, and Little Oh and The Rainbabies, both by Laura Krauss Melmed. He wrote and illustrated The Raft. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, where the ocean continually inspires his work.

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