by Molly Idle (Author)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Molly Idle dazzles with an original mermaid tale about how small, persistent actions can achieve great things. Sometimes the tiniest light can shine the brightest! Like the other mermaids of the deep, Pearl longs to care for the endless beaches, coral reefs, and towering kelp forests of her vast ocean world. So when her mother asks her to tend to a mere grain of sand, Pearl is heartbroken. It takes all her patience and determination to discover how even the littlest mermaid can transform the world.

Caldecott Honor-winning author and artist Molly Idle has masterfully crafted a modern classic in this mesmerizing tale about the immense power of small actions.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

Careful word choice and thoughtful phrasing make this a pleasure to read aloud. A gentle, glowing lesson that even the smallest efforts can lead to large, even environmental results.

Publishers Weekly

Idle (Flora and the Flamingo) creates an undersea realm of mermaids whose graceful swoops and swirls offer visual delight. Pearl longs to be like the other mermaids, each of whom is assigned something to watch over--vast forests of kelp, giant creatures of the deep. When her mother gives her a single grain of sand, she's heartbroken. "Her heart grew heavy, and the weight of it pulled her down... down... down..." tumbling through the sea of blue until she sinks to the sea floor. But soon she discovers something special about her grain of sand: it glows and grows, and the story soars toward a light-filled, celestial conclusion. The text reads smoothly and naturally, like a retelling of an old fairy tale, and balletic spreads revel in the contrast between the intense pink of the mermaids and the soft aqua of the undersea world. The reminder not to scorn that which appears insignificant is always worth repeating, but here, it's the enthralling underwater acrobatics that will bring readers back. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1--There are many aspects of an ocean a mermaid might be assigned to watch over: coral reefs, sand beaches, or the living creatures beneath the surface. So young mermaid Pearl is disappointed and saddened to learn that she is to "look after" a single grain of sand. Though reluctant to accept such an insignificant charge, she complies when her mother tells her "The smallest of things can make a great difference." The child takes her responsibility seriously and as she watches, her grain of sand grows bigger and brighter. Beautiful Prismacolor pencil drawings in the blues, greens, and teals of the sea are soft and soothing; additional touches of white and brilliant pink fairly leap off the pages. The white text is placed in a variety of locations throughout the story but, unfortunately, fades and becomes difficult to read on several pages where positioned over a pale portion of the illustration. VERDICT Idle's appealing story is a quiet, charming pourquoi tale that will delight young readers and listeners. Perfect for bedtime or anytime sharing.--Maryann H. Owen, Oak Creek Public Library WI

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This contemporary fable is sure to captivate."—School Library Connection, starred review
Molly Idle
Molly Idle's work as an author-illustrator includes the Caldecott Honor Book Flora and the Flamingo, Flora and the Penguin, Flora and the Peacocks, Flora and the Chicks, Flora and the Ostrich, and Tea Rex, Camp Rex, Sea Rex, and Santa Rex, among other books, including Pearl, an original fable about a mermaid who learns the power of one small act. She lives with her family in Arizona, and invites you to visit her at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
October 20, 2018
BISAC categories
JUV029010 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | Environment
JUV002170 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Marine Life
JUV066000 - Juvenile Fiction | Mermaids
Library of Congress categories
Determination (Personality trait)
Responsibility in children
Determination (Personality trait) in children

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