Not So Tight! Hugs from Pearl by Paul Schmid
PEARL IS SWEET. SHE'S A VERY GOOD FRIEND.
SHE PLAYS FAIR. SHE SHARES HER LUNCH TREATS, AND BEST OF ALL....
PEARL LOVES TO HUG!
But Pearl is not perfect. Pearl's problem is that she is prickly. No, she's not a petulant or pugnacious or persnickety personality. Pearl's problem is that she is a porcupine!
Her classmates say "OUCH!" a lot. Her teacher keeps the Band-Aids handy. Soft-hearted Pearl prefers not to hurt anyone, and her quillaciousness is getting in the way of her personal relationships. What to do?
She tries long hot baths to soften the quills. She pokes pincushions on the offending points. She even talks her mom into a butch-style quillcut. But none of these procedures are permanent solutions to the prickly problem. But Pearl is persistent. She perseveres at her search for a solution, and one day, observing bees working around a thorny rose bush, she comes up with a compromise that cuts down on the need for so many Band-Aids at school.
Paul Schmid's newest, Hugs from Pearl (Harper, 2011), takes a look at personal problems that flow, not from what kids do so much as from what they are. Kids are tall, short, nearsighted, shy, clumsy, and a whole passle of physical characteristics that can affect relationships, and Pearl is a porcupine who takes her innate prickliness in hand and finds a useful work-around to deal with it. Schmid's illustrations are simple, funny, and telling, pointing up this character's real dilemma and her courage in taking ownership of it and persisting in finding a solution. Pearl is a girl whose loving nature shines through in a sweet and satisfying story.
For more giggles, pair Pearl with Deborah Underwood's A Balloon for Isabel, reviewed here for a pair of sisters-above-the-skin, a prickly pair of porcupine protagonists who find a way to make their quills work for them.