The shrimplike being washed up near Caitlin’s island home has surprising characteristics.
Ten-year-old, white, possibly dyslexic narrator Caitlin is a social and academic misfit. Her only friend, Frank, is a would-be fisherman enlisted to take her by boat to and from school. At home, her accomplished parents are too distracted to attend to her. A massive storm before Caitlin’s terrible last day of school results in hundreds of dead jellyfish and drops an odd creature, its white, malleable shell covered in strange symbols, into the marshes. Recognizing it as something special, Caitlin saves it from dehydration. As the creature learns to talk, it latches on to Caitlin’s explanation (perigee) of a photograph of the full moon in her astrobiologist father’s book. Unfortunately Perijee’s outsized self-defense mechanism brings about a minor apocalypse, flooding villages and towns and forcing most of the country’s population into refugee camps. Caitlin’s awkwardness is sometimes cringeworthy, but her warmhearted loyalty to Perijee makes her bravely seek to rescue him from those who want to destroy him (nearly everyone). A sinister cult of little old ladies figures in the climax, along with Frank the fisherman and another resourceful girl with a knack for thievery. Montgomery’s jam-packed narrative doesn’t slow for an instant in this exaggeratedly comic drama. While there are just a few thoughtful moments, there are several irresistibly funny ones.
Humor carries the day in this British import. (Science fiction. 8-11)