Review by Sarah Bolger (Mother of Alice) Brisbane, Australia:
Pete and the Persian Bottle is a brand new adventure book for young readers, from Australian author, Sarah Jackson. The story revolves around the titular character, Pete, who is a small, nine-year-old boy who lives in Boney Ridge, a (fictional) rural town in South-Western Queensland in Australia. He lives with his parents, goes to school with his group of friends and he dreams of winning the upcoming Boney Ridge Regional Agricultural Show go-cart race. Everything changes when he rescues an old bottle from a neighbour’s rubbish bin and lets loose a real life genie. Pete, who would love to be someone ‘more’ than who he is, asks to be ‘special’ and this is his downfall. Pete is turned into a white rat! The story then follows Pete, in his rat form, and his friends as they try to locate the genie and try to convince him to return Pete to his normal self.
This is a fun and enjoyable book and young readers, from whom it is written, would really enjoy the story and the characters. Some of the issues the characters’ deal with throughout the story relate to; having a lack of confidence, dissatisfaction with what we have, feeling helpless, and bullying. The characters resolve these issues by; problem solving, developing resilience, friendship, having a willingness to listen and learn, and learning gratitude.
The fact that the setting is in a rural environment is a great part of the story which helps to inform and develop the characters. Pete and his group of friends are girls and boys from different cultural backgrounds. There are a few children of Anglo-Saxon descent, a couple of indigenous children and a new Australian, Naseem, a Muslim boy who is originally from Afghanistan. It is Naseem, their new friend, who has the knowledge to guide the children’s search for the genie.
They’re all kids to whom the young readers could/ should be able to relate to. Pete is clearly a kid who likes to try and wants to be more than he is. There is a school bully who seems to pick on everyone smaller than him.
Pete and the Persian Bottle is 90 pages in length. There is a good range of vocabulary for young readers and there are no difficult situations which require explanation by an adult. The value that friendship is given in book is a standout feature and something most readers will enjoy. Reading the book may also raise questions in young readers about the concepts of empathy and sympathy.
‘Pete and the Persian Bottle’ is a great book to read and enjoy for entertainment value but there are lessons to be learned as well. It’s a great book to read with children and to discuss or you could give this book to your child and just let them go!
- Suitable for young readers. There are some colloquial Australian terms/ slang but non-Aussies would understand the text from the context.
- No ‘bad’ language. No difficult situations requiring adult explanation.
- Some lessons to be learned – resilience, value of friends, empathy.
- Great book for discussion between adults and children.
- This link, https://sarahjacksonwriter.com/the-persian-bottle/, to the author’s website gives further information about the book and where it can be purchased (e-book and paperback).