Pamela Rushby, Princess Parsley, Scholastic Australia, July 2016, 224pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781742991610
Parsley Patterson is the eldest of four sisters – the others being Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Just about to start high school, Parsley knows her name is going to be a cross to carry and is planning to become Patsy. But things get worse. The family make a living growing herbs and making associated products, which they cart to markets to sell, until they get the idea of hosting their own market, and thus must face the slings and arrows of the local council. One thing leads to another and before Parsley can believe it her father is setting up their farm at Possum Creek, located on the coastal borderlands between NSW and Queensland, as an independent principality, and the market is a big success. Except for the repercussions for Parsley’s school life. She doesn’t get away with the name change and is bullied from the start by the A Team girls, “the blondes”, who are determined to keep her on the outer.
Parsley is a smart, funny and resilient character. Her younger sister, Sage, is true to her name and helps her sister see what’s important. When Parsley loses it with the blondes, pouring out a tirade in response, she finds a power she didn’t expect. The bullies are stunned, most of the class wildly amused and her drama teacher observes an opportunity. So Parsley is entered in a big comedy competition which gives her the chance to hone skills she didn’t realise she had, but also contend with one of the bullies (or the pushy parent thereof) trying to share the limelight with Parsley, and with the possible impact the comedy routine – which is based on the torment of being a so-called princess – might have on her father, who is oblivious to Parsley’s embarrassment.
This is an amusing and tender story about families and school. Parsley is shown to be in a loving family, and the difficulties of some of her school mates are treated sensitively as well. Parsley is strong and sensible and true to herself, without taking that self too seriously. The writing is strong and the tone humorous. The idea of a twelve-year-old doing well in a comedy talent quest is treated in an authentic way, and the description of the quest itself gives just a peek into a range of other young people who are similarly inclined. Princess Parsley is a wise and entertaining read.
Reviewed by Marita Thomson