The best middle grade stories are often those that reveal small amounts of significant detail throughout, which lure the reader in and ensure they are invested in the stories progress right through to the very ending and that is precisely what I love about The Pearl in the Ice. From the offset main character Marina, a 12 year old living with her dad is remarkable, and it as we accompany her on her journey to discover who she truly is that we see just how remarkable she is. A fantastic role model to young readers, she is courageous, intelligent, loyal, curious, and follows her heart.
In doing so Marina finds herself as a stowaway onboard the fishing vessel her dad is captaining, and whilst that was not her intention when she set out to follow her dad to port to see him off she is now in a situation that most would be petrified to find themselves in and yet Marina comes into her own – once she has battled sea sickness anyway!
And so begins Marina’s first ever journey by sea, caught and taken to her dad she doesn’t receive the warm welcome she anticipated but later on is given an official position within the ships crew, and responsibility for the dogs onboard which she takes very seriously but which also leads to some serious mishaps along the way, which are incredibly dangerous.
One such occasion sees Marina fall into the ocean and it triggers one of the flashbacks that feature within the book, to when she visited the seaside when she was younger, with her mum being there to take her paddling in the sea, and Marina is left confused and uncertain and looks for answers from her dad, especially as the water seems to be calling to her every time she is in it – whether it be in her flashbacks or at present – even when she is in the bath tub!
The mystery of Marina’s heritage, what happened to her mum – who is no longer around, and her adventurous soul that feels at home on the ocean make for an engaging and gripping read that young readers will love. The story is well paced, exciting, and has all the content you could ask for to immerse the reader into the adventure and take them alongside Marina on her ocean voyage. Fans of Katherine Rundell’s The Explorer, Alex Bell’s Polar Bear Explorers Club series and Abi Elphistone’s Sky Song would definitely enjoy this title.
The Pearl in the Ice is published by Chicken House on 7th November 2019.