Title: Pearlie in Central Park
Author: Wendy Harmer
Illustrator: Gypsy Taylor
Publisher: Random House Australia, $14.95 RRP
For ages: 6-9
Type: Junior Fiction Novel
About: I am a great fan of Harmer's work and have enjoyed many of her books in varying genre. Pearlie in Central Park is my first Pearlie book (even though I've admired the lolly pink covers for a while now) and I must admit, I had fun - firstly because I love any excuse to visit New York City, and secondly, because Pearlie is... well, she's darling.
What I love about Harmer's Pearlie books is that her signature Aussie verbosity can be clearly heard within the stylishly pimped pages of Pearlie. 'Hurly burly!' cries Pearlie. 'Frost and icicles!' she exclaims as she floats across the icy landscape of NYC in winter, in search of Crystal the Central Park Fairy. Alas, Crystal has absconded to warmer climes (Hawaii - I mean, why wouldn't you?) and Pearlie is left to fend for herself with the aid of some adorable (and starving) squirrels.
In need of a good feed, Pearlie helps the squirrels rustle up some nosh, and manages to come up with a tricky plot to fend off those pesky, food-hogging birds. And when Crystal finally shows up, the book wraps with a happy spring time ending.
Although Pearlie's NY adventure is a pleasant read and is well-written, I can't help but feel the book has been chronically Be-Disneyed. The illustrations by Taylor are gorgeous and an illustrative dream for little girls, but there seems to be an overly homogenous look to this book that was probably necessitated by the successful television series of the Pearlie conglomerate.
In a nutshell (sorry, squirrels), it all seems a little too 'tied up in a neat package' and lacks that individuality and quirkyness Harmer is renowned for. Nonetheless, there's a reason the books are so successful, and if you like your pink fairy books Americanised and television-affiliated, then your heart will flutter right alongside the lucid wings of the lovely Pearlie.
Move over Dora.