Quite a bit of news to share:
The formidable Kirkus has smiled upon Pearl:
“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 proves he is a talent to watch. Keep quills crossed for a future porcupine tale.”
And from Publishers Weekly:
Pearl the porcupine stars in this sweet-natured story about the hazards of hugging (at least when one is a porcupine), and she’s also the source of its delightfulness. Schmid (A Pet for Petunia) draws Pearl and her many quills with a few hasty strokes, but her expressive features, her ecstatic gyrations when she contemplates hugging her classmates (“Pearl loves to hug”), and her dismayed expression when she realizes that her hugs hurt them (“Pearl’s teacher kept lots of Band-Aids handy”) will soften even the hard-hearted. A visit to some similarly prickly rosebushes in the neighborhood leads Pearl to a solution that both pleases her and spares her classmates. Schmid is disciplined about keeping his story focused; Pearl and her classmates stand against backdrops of soft green and blue with no extra scenery, and every sentence moves the action along. Pearl’s is a small-scale problem, but she surmounts it by herself, and readers have the reassuring sense that nothing awful will happen while she figures it out—at least nothing that a Band-Aid can’t fix.
The School Library Journal has also given our girl a sweet review:
Pearl loves to give hugs, which leaves her friends at school in a prickly predicament. Tired of hearing, “Ouch! Thanks, Pearl. Ouch!” from her classmates, the youngster wonders, “What’s a friendly little porcupine to do?” After unsuccessfully investigating several options to soften her quills, including pincushions, a long bath, and a quill cut, Pearl is quite dejected. Then she notices bees happily buzzing around some thorny roses, and she has a flash of inspiration. With a little alteration to her mother’s special rose-print pillowcase, Pearl soon has the perfect solution. With his simple pastel and charcoal illustrations set against pale green and blue pages, Schmid brings just the right touch of sweetness to this charming tale. Though rendered with an uncomplicated ease, rosy-faced Pearl is endearingly expressive in her body language, and readers won’t help but respond to her anxiously crooked mouth as she ponders her dilemma, her industriously stuck-out tongue as she tries to address it, and her jubilantly closed eyes as she savors her success. This porcupine is perfectly lovable, and her proactive endeavors to solve a problem thrust on her by nature set a good example for children encountering their own struggles. This warmhearted story will fit right into storytimes and one-on-one reading sessions at home.–Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI