Princess Parsley (Pamela Rushby, Omnibus)
Poor Parsley Patterson. As if it’s not hard enough starting high school, her dad decides to secede from Australia, making 12-year-old Parsley and her younger sisters (Sage, Rosemary and Thyme—the Pattersons have a sense of humour) princesses. Parsley is horrified, and it certainly doesn’t help her reputation with ‘The Blondes’: the in-girls who also happen to be the bullies of her year-group. Pamela Rushby explores family loyalty and relationships, independence and individual difference, and bullying—all in Parsley’s matter-of-fact, drily humorous voice, making her a grounded, easy-to-like character. While a little slow to begin, the story’s rural Queensland setting and familiar pre-teen dilemmas are blended well with its quirky, understated narrative. The relationships are one of the strongest aspects: a lovely supportive friendship between Parsley and sensible Sage; a budding but primarily platonic relationship with Wade; conflicts with chief-Blonde Danielle (who, of course, has problems of her own); and mature rapport with her teachers. Although marketed for the readers aged eight and up, the book’s high-school setting will likely appeal to readers closer to Parsley’s age. It’s a straightforward read that might not challenge strong readers, but Rushby’s prose is never patronising, managing to integrate delicate imagery with age-appropriate phrasing and dialogue.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is an editor, writer and bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop