Pearlie’s Pet Rescue written by Gabrielle Wang & Illustrated by Lucia Masciullo
Published by Penguin Books
In book one Pearlie and her friend Naoko found evidence that a man called Mr Beake was a spy. Things didn’t go to plan when they tried to expose him, and Pearlie accidently leaves a bracelet at the scene.
Pearlie is terrified that Beake is out to get her and that is where the story picks up again. World War 2 has begun and women and children are being evacuated from Darwin. Pearlie is desperate to find out if Mr Beake is still in town, so she returns to Beake’s house where she finds that it is completely empty. Well almost completely. A dog named Rusty is sheltering there, and Pearlie takes him home to care for him.
Pearlie loves animals, and she soon finds herself running a little business taking animals in from the evacuee’s, with the help of her friend Reddy. Naoko has also been evacuated, leaving her adorable pet pygmy marmoset Tinto.
Tinto is one smart little monkey. He loves Pearlie’s friend Reddy just as much as Pearlie does, and even learns to find his way to Reddy’s house and back. Pearlie and Reddy pass notes to each other through Tinto, which comes in very handy when Pearlie finds herself in a sticky situation. Luckily Tinto gets a message to Reddy and Pearlie is rescued.
Pearlie and Reddy continue to rescue animals, until Reddy learns it’s his turn to go. Pearlie finally faces the fact that soon she will have to leave Darwin too. Thankfully Pearlie will be able to depart with her whole family, as her dad has been ill and is too sick to stay behind.
When the call comes, Pearlie is desperate to find homes for the pets. She seeks help from a local, but realises that he has been evacuated. A lady at the tavern tells Pearlie about a man called Thomas that will never leave Darwin. He is a World War 1 veteran where he sustained severe burns. He lives on the outskirts of town. Pearlie has heard stories about the man they call Old Man Lizard, but she has no other choice. She moves past her prejudices and asks Thomas to care for the animals. Thomas takes them, unwillingly at first, but he is a kind and generous man, who has merely been misunderstood due to his disfigurement.
Pearlie gives over care of her animals, all bar one. She can’t bear to part with Tinto, but when she attempts to smuggle him on board the ship, a soldier notices. Pearlie races back into town, to give Tinto to Thomas, and on the way, she happens upon someone that strikes terror in her heart.
And there the story ends, and quite a cliff hanger it is.
This was a wonderful story that manages to impart sensitive historical details in kid friendly terms. We learn so much of what was happening in Darwin during that time through the eyes of young Pearlie. Pearlie is kind, caring and resourceful. Her methods are not always what parents will approve of, but you can’t help but fall in love with her courage and determination. The end pages of the book give some interesting facts about that time, as well as a teaser for the third book. I am anxious to find out what happens to Pearlie and I think boys and girls aged 8-10 will also be drawn into the story of this brave young heroine.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Gabrielle Wang
Illustrator: Lucia Masciullo
Title: Pearlie’s Pet Rescue
Published: April 2014