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Solomon Macaroni and the Cousin Catastrophe

Written by Ashleigh  Barton
Illustrated by Sarah Davis
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Ashleigh is the author of picture book What Do You Call Your Grandma? which  has been shortlisted in the 2022 CBCA Book of the Year Awards and this charming story about the nice vampire, Solomon, is her debut middle grade novel.
Solomon is friendly and polite, he isn’t a ‘mean scary bloodsucking only-come-out-at-night vampire’. Apparently nearly all the magic in the world had disappeared and vampires no longer needed to drink blood to survive. Please note I said ‘nearly all the magic’.
He is horrified when he has to stay in Transylvania with his uncle Count Dracula and his six naughty cousins of whom only one, Lucy, is friendly. But when his cousins venture into the spooky Wildwood where witches and ghosts and werewolves abound  Solomon reluctantly agrees to help Lucy on her dangerous mission to  rescue them. Both become embroiled in all sorts of magic and mayhem as they encounter the magic denizens of the forest..
This story with its over-the-top humour, suspense and magic will amuse and delight all those who love vampire and things that go bump in the night stories.
Solomon and Lucy are a great contrast to the other annoying cousins who are very irritating at the start but sort of redeem themselves by the end. Their reason for entering the forest in the first place is quite touching.
Solomon learns to be accept being a bit different and realises he has to accept others who may be different too. In a way it is a book about loving your family no matter how irritating or difficult they may be.
The writing never flags and there’s never a dull moment as Ashleigh keeps the pace up, the sparkling humour enlivening the text throughout.
Sarah Davis has done some spooky full page  illustrations and decorated the chapter headings with  lots of bats, they seem to be everywhere.
Sure to appeal to middle grade readers and all lovers of vampires and magic who will be pleased to note that a sequel is in the works.
For a deeper look at this entertaining story I recommend the extensive Teacher’s Notes by Christina Wheeler.
Teacher’s Notes 
University of Queensland Press 2022
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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