Pearl by Molly Idle (9780316465670)
The mermaids of the ocean took care of the waves, the reefs, kelp, and creatures. Pearl, a little mermaid, thinks she is old enough to take care of something too. Her mother agrees and leads Pearl to the surface of the ocean and to a sandy beach. There she gives Pearl a single grain of sand to look after. Pearl is so disappointed. There she sits on a beach filled with sand with one grain to care for. She sinks to the bottom of the ocean and clenches the grain in her hand. Then she realizes that the grain of sand has started to glow. Pearl watches after the single grain of sand, day after day. It grows and grows, transforming from a grain of sand into something much more special.
Idle has created a luminescent book about the beauty of attention and care, of taking your time and doing a task well. One might expect Pearl to simply give up, but she doesn’t, even in her disappointment about her assignment. Even after readers realize that Pearl is creating a pearl, the book will surprise and delight with a final twist and a realization that things can be even bigger and more important than first thought, even a grain of sand.
The illustrations are so beautiful. Filled with so many different sea blues, the illustrations feature mermaids with glowing white hair, shaped into shell-like forms. The mermaids glow against the water, beautiful and magical.
A lovely addition to mermaid stories, this one is a gem. Appropriate for ages 2-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton (9780525580966)
Take a dazzling and frightening look at our potential future in this novel for teens. Told in six linked stories, the novel starts in the near future with a look at the moral medical questions of saving one twin by killing the other. Things only get more complicated from there with genetic modifications becoming more and more prevalent. Where does a human end and a cyborg begin? What happens when a modified human loses empathy but gains so much intelligence? What about cryogenics when it falls into the wrong hands? Can humans evolve so far that they appear to be another species entirely? Each story takes the reader farther from the present day and into a wild exploration of the depths of genetic modification taken to the logical extreme.
Dayton could have created six stand-alone stories but instead wisely chose to tie all of them together but not in an expected way. Instead of one of the main characters, it is a minor but majorly influential character who is in the background of all of the stories, making an appearance himself or just having his theories mentioned. He is a religious man who starts out believing that genetic modification is the work of the devil and creates demons but then has his own personal experience with death and genetics and finds a way to become the leading figure in promoting genetic modification.
Dayton keeps a firm hand on the politics of her world as well, setting one of her stories in Australia and another in Russia while the remainder take place in the United States. This global focus allows readers to see more deeply into the divided views on genetic modification and also to see more of the questions related to how far it is alright to take this. Each of Dayton’s stories is an ethical question wrapped in a taut and fascinating plot in a shared world.
Brilliant and timely, this novel for teens is remarkable in its ethical and open questions. Appropriate for ages 13-18.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Delacorte Press.