Title: Solomon Macaroni and the Cousin Catastrophe
Author: Ashleigh Barton
Reviewer: Natalie Lincoln
Solomon Macaroni must cope with being left with his uncle and prank playing cousins when his parents go away for a holiday. A challenge for any kid, it is especially difficult for Solomon. His uncle is Dracula and his cheeky cousins play endless tricks on him that are far from amusing to the ‘young’ 552 year old vampire. A serious and studious child, he must navigate his way through his time with his extended family. The novel touches on themes of friendship, loyalty, family and letting go and having fun.
A sweet protagonist, fastidious Solomon is most concerned with the state of his cape, from its cleanliness, to how wrinkled it is and the pride he takes in ironing it. Amusingly (for a vampire), he is vegetarian – taking immense pride in cooking tofu bolognese. I absolutely adored Fred, his spider, who has packed his suitcase to join him on the journey, proving to be a trusty sidekick in moments of need. As a meticulous child, it is no wonder Solomon is challenged by his inventive Uncle Dracula and his Transylvanian mansion, fashioned as it is, on the inside, as a beach house. The five raucous cousins, themselves grieving the loss of their mother, add to the chaotic surrounds and Solomon’s discomfort.
There are some great moments of humour involving allusions to the storylines of Harry Potter and Twilight, alongside an intertextual nod to some classics, which could be teaching moments if used in a classroom. What I liked most about this novel, possibly from seeing a whole lot of myself in Solomon, was his learning that “sometimes, things were about creating a little bit of joy.” Solomon Macaroni and the Cousin Catastrophe, which would be enjoyed by primary school students, is an excellent reminder to have a little bit more fun. As for Solomon, I’m proud of his fortitude and bravery.
Teachers’ notes available for UQP titles via: https://www.uqp.com.au/books