Saturday 10 September 2022

Solomon Macaroni & The Cousin Catastrophe

Solomon Macaroni & The Cousin Catastrophe written by Ashleigh Barton, illustrated by Sarah Davis (University of Queensland Press UQP) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9780702265617

Reviewed by Sarah Tegerdine

Solomon Macaroni & The Cousin Catastrophe is a light-hearted, entertaining middle grade fiction set in a time where magic has all but disappeared.

Some magical creatures cease to exist in the traditional sense and for those that remain, their powers have diminished quite drastically. Vampires for example don’t need blood to survive anymore and can quite happily engage in a meal of cheeseburgers and pancakes. They can’t run very fast or even fly… The one thing they have retained is the ability to live for a very long time.

Solomon is a young vampire and when we say young…he is a mere 552 years old: in human terms it equates to a ten-and-a-half-year-old boy. Solomon is desperately unhappy when his parents decide to leave on a 100-year around-the-world cruise and he is going to be staying with his quirky and comical Uncle, Count Dracula, and his cousins in not so nearby Transylvania.

Solomon has six cousins, five of whom are mean serial pranksters. So, he decides early on in his stay, despite his uncle’s warmth and generosity that this arrangement will be short-lived. He just can’t stay! He has to go back home to Italy and will simply wait for his parents return. Solomon colludes with his best friend Fred, who is a spider, stowaway, and karate expert but it’s at this point his favourite cousin Lucy provides Solomon his best way out.  She will help Solomon get home but only if he helps her with something first…

That something turns out to be a quest that challenges his beliefs and teaches him that there is more to his cousins than taunts and tricks.

It’s a perfect balance of mild spookiness with bunches of humour with family at its core. Recommended for junior fiction readers ready to make their first leap into middle grade.

Excitingly, a sequel is anticipated to be released sometime in 2023.

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