In this welcome departure from the seemingly ubiquitous theme that finds porcupines looking for love, gentle-hearted Pearl experiments with ways to make her hugs more comfortable for others.
From the first page, the text speaks directly to young readers in simple sentences that instantly establish a friendly rapport: “Pearl is sweet… She’s a very good friend to have. She plays fair, shares her lunch treats, and best of all… / Pearl LOVES to hug.” But she does have those pesky quills. Even though everyone in her class likes Pearl, they find her hugs “a little ouchy.” So Pearl dedicates herself to finding a solution. Set against backgrounds of pale green or blue, the charcoal strokes delineating Pearl’s soft, white body portray her as anything but prickly. A touch of pastel pink highlights her face and the myriad feelings she experiences while struggling with her prickliness. Using pincushions, taking a long bath and requesting a quillcut all prove futile. When she is at her most discouraged, some bees and rosebushes give her an idea. With a little ingenuity, some resourcefulness and a whole lot of heart, Pearl solves her own dilemma. Children and adults alike will cheer as she rushes to school to share her rosy success.Schmid’s follow-up to A Pet for Petunia (2011) proves he is a talent to watch. Keep quills crossed for a future porcupine tale. (Picture book. 3-6)