Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley
By Aaron Blabey
Front Street
ISBN: 9781590785966
Grades K-2
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There are plenty of children’s books based on friendship. It’s an important topic, so I don’t mind. Some books about friendship show rather than tell – they don’t explain how the process works, but show it in action. I think of the recent “Dog and Bear” books as an example. This is effective because a story about friendship is usually more interesting than a nuts and bolts examination. “Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley” goes the nuts and bolts route with unquestionable success. If you can find a more honest, well-written picture book about friendship this year, please send me a message at illeatmyhat@scopenotes.com.

The story (originally released in Australia) is not groundbreaking. Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley are two friends who could not be more different. Pearl is outgoing and fun-loving, while Charlie is quiet and cautious. After explaining the differences between the two, the narrator gets to the heart of the matter – that they are great friends precisely because of their opposite personalities. Author/illustrator Aaron Blabey manages to tell this story without ever falling into the saccharine zone of no return. The spot-on writing is plainly stated and economical.

The warm acrylic and mixed media illustrations focus on the characters. Pearl and Charlie are almost always depicted in full body view with a minimum of background clutter. With this decision, Blabey smartly focuses in on the relationship between our two main characters.


“Pearl Barley…” is a book about friends that reads like a breath of fresh air. Simple and effective. Highly recommended.

Also reviewed by Kids Lit, Cheryl Rainfeld.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.