23 June 2009

Magenta McPhee

by Catherine Bateson

Woolshed Press. Australian, Junior. Paperback rrp $16.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

Short-listed for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award (Upper Primary), Catherine Bateson’s Magenta McPhee addresses issues for many kids whose parents are separated or divorced.

Magenta’s parents are divorced, her mum is remarrying and Magenta is worried about her dad. He seems lonely, maybe even depressed. With best friend Polly assisting, Magenta posts her dad’s profile on an Internet dating site. Things get complicated when someone responds and Magenta answers emails on her dad’s behalf. How can Magenta tell him she has arranged for him to meet a strange woman for coffee? Is there an easy way of mentioning that this person thinks she has been chatting with him by email for weeks? Can Magenta avoid being grounded for a lifetime?

When the meeting between her dad and the new woman takes place, another perspective on single parent households arises. Cal is also keen for his mum to find a friend of the opposite sex, but for very different reasons. His very existence complicates Magenta’s life. Are you allowed to be interested in the son of someone your dad might date?

Magenta sees herself as a budding writer. Chapters of her first historical fiction are threaded between the pages of her life. The medieval princess and teenage witch provide a neutral space to sort through her modern day dilemmas. Catherine Bateson masterfully embeds modern issues within Magenta’s funny, sometimes poignant story in much the same way that Magenta addresses personal dilemmas in her work of historical fiction.

The result is yet another engaging and easy read with quirky characters from Catherine Bateson.

You won’t be disappointed with Magenta McPhee. Oh. First boyfriends and kisses are also contemplated…


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