A fast-paced junior fiction adventure starring a plucky new heroine that has to face her fears to save her parents, her friend and the day!
Pearly Woe is a worrier. She worries about everything, especially that she’ll never be brave enough to become a member of the top-secret group of stealth adventurers – The Adventurologists’ Guild. Pearly also has a special talent – she can talk to animals. Her favourite animal to talk to is her pet pig, called Pig. But with her parents missing, Pig pig-napped and Pearly a stowaway on an icebreaker heading for Antarctica, Pearly’s worries just got REAL.
Pearly Woe is not your average 10-year-old. She can speak 27 languages, talk to and understand most animals and, in this tale, travels to Antarctica. However, this is no holiday. Pearly and her faithful friend Pig (a pig) are representatives of the Adventurologists Guild and need to find Pearly’s missing parents—all the while trying to understand what the despicable film star Emmeline Woods wants with Pig. This story is action-packed from the start; readers will be swept away with the pace and the blend of fantasy and realism. While Pearly’s character and situation are unique, author Sue Whiting has woven into her protagonist’s character an increasingly common condition children are facing these days: anxiety. Throughout the story, Pearly constantly worries and doubts herself, and this is the battle she fights most against. Mind you, her anxiety is justified—there are few reliable adult figures in the story and she is alone in Antarctica trying to stop a megalomaniac with a gun. When Pearly finally locates her parents safe and well, it is a great comfort to both Pearly and the reader when her mum tells her, ‘We all worry, it’s normal.’ Let’s hope there are more adventures to come with Pearly and Pig, as they really are a remarkable pair.
Books and Publishing
Pig and the Great Hairy Beast is a page-turning adventure story set in Antarctica that blends realism and fantasy.
The excitement of this adventure starts immediately in this novel. Pearly is a 10-year-old who is very concerned that her parents have not returned home. The special Adventure Phone continues to ring but should she answer it? This is a test of whether she too can be a member of the Adventurologist Guild, like her parents. She makes the right decision and her mother answers and tells her she must immediately take Pig to the jetty at Port Clementine. Pig is a pig with an extraordinary sense of smell and Pearly can communicate with him. But there’s something very fishy going on and when she arrives at the jetty her parents aren’t there. Just the beautiful Emmaline Woods and some burly men and a ship called the Mighty Muncher. Pearly doesn’t trust this woman who intimidates her. When Pig is Pignapped Pearly tricks her way onto the ship which is headed for Antarctica in search of the Great Hairy Beast. Of course, she is discovered on board and she also realizes Emmaline’s true villainy. But where are her parents and how will Pearly and Pig survive the harsh Antarctic environment? This is an entertaining mystery with a light touch and an array of colourful characters. Pearly is an earnest girl trying to stick to the rules of RAG (Rules and Guidelines for Young Adventurologists) and not give into her fears. Fortunately, she is a gifted linguist and communicates with animals which helps the animals and gets her out of tricky situations. Pig is endearing with his OINKY! OINKY! NO!-NO! and AROOing warnings. There’s a subtle thread of climate change, anti-hunting and you get a sense of the Antarctic environment. Whiting’s RAG as an appendix is a nice touch and worthy of discussion with children. Pearly will work well as a read-aloud for 7- to 9-year-olds.
Pearly and Pig and the Great Hairy Beast is an exciting adventure story that whisks readers away to the cold climes of Antarctica on a thrilling and dangerous rescue mission that is nothing like it first appears. Quickly surrounded by peril and where one wrong move could have dire consequences, Pearly is going to need every bit of courage and bravery she can muster if she is going to stop a dangerous villain who is famous for all the wrong reasons, save the Great Hairy Beast, save her parents and save another very unexpected stowaway. Fast-paced and with plenty of pig-themed jokes and puns this first in a new series offer readers a relatable young protagonist, a delightful and quirky sidekick, and deals with relevant themes of anxiety, worrying and catastrophising. Children who fancy joining The Adventurologists’ Guild can see if they have what it takes by checking out the rules, guidelines and survival tips at the end of the story.
A Word About Books
This is a promising start to a new series. While the obvious themes are courage and overcoming fears, it is kind, gentle drama and action that is light enough for readers who don’t like scary, confronting, or tense stories. Absent are friendship and school dramas, the action instead is out in the real world. If you have a reader who enjoyed the Mango and Bambang series and is now ready for longer, more complex stories then this is a great option. One inclusion throughout the book was the advice and tips for adventurologists, such as be prepared, but also be prepared to be spontaneous. I loved that the entire ‘Rules and Guidelines for Young Adventurologists’ was included at the end of the book, as there are some great little tips for being brave, curious, but also careful. The reading level of this book is probably around grade 5-6, but the content is suitable for children as young as 6 or 7, making it a great one for a family read-aloud, or for youngsters who are strong independent readers who have moved beyond shorter chapter books.