Wednesday 3 October 2012

Pearlie and the Flamenco Fairy

15 Pearlie and the Flamenco Fairy by Wendy Harmer, illustrated by Gypsy Taylor (Random House Australia)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781742755403
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

Pearlie is on her 15th adventure. She’s quite a fairy!

Straight away the reader is flying with Pearlie on the back of Queen Emerald’s magic ladybird over the plazas, palaces, gardens and fountains of Madrid.

Pearlie is good at a lot of things, but she’s not so sure about dancing. And that’s a problem as the lovely Spanish fairy, Florentina, with her ‘sparkling brown eyes and swirling scarlet skirt’ is throwing Pearlie a special party in her honour. Which means Pearlie has to learn to dance.

As Pearlie buckles on Florentina’s tap shoes, she hears the ‘clicketty-clack, clicketty-clack’ of Senor Philippe, the ‘sleek Spanish cricket.’ He is handsome, cheeky, moustached and passionate for the Flamenco – the ‘dance of FIRE!’

Reading out loud, Harmer’s use of tantalising techniques, brings the story to life. There are smatterings of the local language with ‘Hola’, ‘Ole’, and ‘Magnifico’. Lashings of alliteration, assonance, similes and onomatopoeia give further rhythm to Harmer’s enchanting fairy story. Young readers into their first independent reading books, may be influenced to use these devices to give their own stories as much colour as those in Florentina’s dresses.

As with learning any new skill, we understand how Pearlie feels as she ‘stumbled and bumbled’ with her ‘feet and wings all tangled up.’

Harmer’s simple but evocative description of eating tapas opens up the world of international cuisine, so that when eating out, the reader will have a better understanding of traditional foods.

Cue the castanets. It’s disaster for Pearlie as she trips. Her pearl necklace breaks and ‘boink, boink, boinks’ around her. As she flies after the pearls she unknowingly performs a beautiful flamenco to the ‘Ole!’ of the Spanish fairies. In a subtle way we learn that sometimes problems work out in the most unusual and unexpected ways.

Wendy Harmer, journalist and storyteller, has created a best seller in her Pearlie series for young readers. The animated Pearlie is now screening on Australian TV.

Talented illustrator, Gypsy Taylor, recently worked on the animated Pearlie series. She captures the colour of Wendy Harmer’s writing like a mirror. They are such a creative team.

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