Could there possibly be anything more absolutely, mega embarrassing than being called Parsley? You bet. After a disagreement with the local council, Parsley's dad decides to set up his own principality, making 12-year-old Parsley - Princess Parsley!
How about that for making you popular in your first year of high school? But it's the way Parsley approaches being a princess that really causes a stir, and a lot of laughs.
Miss 11 absolutely loved this book. She started at Intermediate a few weeks ago and had all the predictable hiccups with finding her way in a new school, getting used to her new teachers' routines, making new friends (and learning who to avoid), and finding that she was very much not part of the "in" group. When I asked her what was meant by the "in" group, she said it was the girls who told everyone else how they should dress and what was cool and who they should avoid if they wanted to be popular. I said I thought they sounded up themselves. She sighed and said you were nobody unless you were in their group. Times have not changed!
So, when she realised that Parsley was going through exactly the same experience with the Blondes, she was immediately hooked in to the story. There is a wonderful moral to this book - basically, to be yourself and not let yourself be influenced by what others think. Parsley learned to be strong - to listen to those people in her life like Ms Klein and Jan and Alex who believed in her. She learned to use her own strengths to succeed and to follow her own path so that she could simply ignore the Blondes' sneers. And of course, as soon as she disregarded their opinions, they stopped giving her a hard time and accepted her for herself. Miss 11 said that was wonderful advice and she was going to follow Parsley's example!
Part of the charm of this book is the way it celebrates individualism - not just with Parsley's struggle to accept herself as she is (which includes her unusual name!), but with her father's actions in declaring his land to be his own princedom. There is reference to several other instances of this being done, including Australia's Principality of Hutt River and New Zealand's Whangamomona. The latter is not actually identified by name in the book, but it is pretty clear that this is what is meant, and Miss 11 has been there with her family, so she understood the concept perfectly.
Add Gran who keeps singing protest songs (including The Red Flag) and a family who is almost completely self-sufficient, and the result is the hippie lifestyle par excellence! Even the four girls' names (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme) are taken from a song released by Simon and Garfunkel in the mid 1960s - again a time when life was simpler, and some people grew their own vegetables and even made their own wine. There is a basic charm about this story as it highlights people of different ages within the same family, all with an individual take on life.
Miss 11 may be too young to remember Simon and Garfunkel, but she did not need to know about them to recognise that the girls' names were unusual. In fact, she thought it might be cool to be called Parsley or Thyme as her own name is quite common. In the meantime, she has read the book from cover to cover and has started reading it a second time in case she missed anything.
The name of this book is so enamouring for both children and adults alike "Princess Parsley" it made me want to open the book and begin reading as it had an element of fun to it. My girls too were drawn to it, and couldn't wait for me to finish it so they (14 & 11) could dive in.
It is set in Australia, and written in a style that is both descriptive, and relatable for most tweens and early teens. Our main character princess Parsley isn't the only one with a unique name, her sister is called Sage, and then there is Rosemary and Thyme! With a classic dad line with the youngest, "Then we knew it was Thyme to stop"! This book has little spots of humour dotted through it, making the read fun and engaging. These names are not so bad at the local primary in fact they fit the genre, but Parsley is about to make the transition to high school, and Parsley is not going to cut the mustard!
The first day of high school starts exactly as Parsley expects, "Parsley your names Parsley, curly or straight leaf" - she manages as best she can, but those A list girls can be mean, when she gets home her sister reassures her that the worst is over and they will stop picking on her soon. Boy she couldn't be more wrong, with the decision Parsleys Dad is about to make... Parsley's Dad begins to wage a war with the local council, and things go from bad to worse when he makes the drastic decision to abdicate from Australia and set up his own principality, making Parsley, Princess Parsley, could high school get any worse?
This is a fun, and well written book, that I can see young girls from 11 - 14 engaging and identifying with. I would put it on the shopping list for gifts to buy for daughters, nieces and those birthday parties that pop up. I can see the potential for more stories staring Parsley, she is an endearing character who rolls with the challenges that life (or her parents) have thrown at her.
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