The Children’s Book Review | February 6, 2018
The Book of Pearl
Written by Timothée de Fombelle
Translated by Sarah Ardizzone Sam Gordon
Age Range: 14-16
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (2018)
What to Expect: Fairy Tale meets Historical Fiction
The Book of Pearl is an intricately woven tale translated from French to English. It gives the reader a new view of the fairytale world we have come to know and love: one where fairies and genies are not treasured but forced into hiding and princes are hunted just for being born second in line to a sickly mother.
Ilian, a discarded and hunted prince from a fairytale land, is forced into a new world after being spared from execution by a family friend. He was sentenced to death by his brother, the king, who blames him for the death of their mother. Readers follow the journey of Ilian as he learns about his old world and life in a storybook found in the home of his adoptive parents, the Pearls. He steals the identity of their dead son, Joshua, and enlists in the army to fight during World War II. There, he finds a mermaid scale around the neck of an enemy in the camp he is held at as a prisoner of war in a barren town in Germany. This sets him on a long journey to find the artifacts from his old world in an effort to find his way home and back to his fairy love. He keeps the artifacts he collects in trunks in his hidden cabin in the woods and lists them all in a journal, which is labeled “The Book of Joshua Pearl.”
Jumps in time and perspective add to the enigma of the story, and the characters are introduced without names due to the mystery surrounding the main protagonist. While these elements could make the storyline hard to follow for younger readers, teens aged 14-16 with high deductive reasoning skills will enjoy this novel best.
About the Author
Timothée de Fombelle is a French playwright and the author of many books, including Toby Alone, Toby and the Secrets of the Tree, Vango, and A Prince Without a Kingdom. He lives with his family in Paris.
About the Translators
Sarah Ardizzone has won several awards for her translation work. She lives in London.
Sam Gordon is a freelance translator based in London.
The Book of Pearl, by Timothée de Fombelle, was reviewed by Samantha Sheridan. Discover more books like The Book of Pearl by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Fairies, Fairy Tales, Princes, and Young Adult Fiction.