By Sarah Jackson
Illustrated by Tegan Werts
Pete and the Persian Bottle is the story of nine-year-old Peter (Pete) Bartlett, an average boy from an average town, whose biggest wish is to stand out in the crowd.
When Pete comes across a curious looking bottle while scavenging for go-cart parts in his neighbour’s rubbish skip, he opens it releasing a long-trapped genie. The genie, distressed about the fate of his homeland, Persia, is concerned about being stranded in Australia. Insensitive to the genie’s plight and eager to get his three wishes, Pete pushes the genie into turning him into someone special. Angry, the genie turns Pete into a rat, and then, after being frightened by noises emanating from the computer, disappears out the window.
Pete the rat, must find a way to convince his friends that he is really Pete, and enlist their help to turn him back into a boy. They make friends with the new kid from the Middle East, Naseem, in the hope that he knows about genies and how to control them. Together they come up with a plan to locate the missing genie, return Pete to normal, send the genie home and set everything right, all the while avoiding lizards, dogs, cats, adults and the local thugs.
Pete and the Persian Bottle is set in the fictional South West Queensland town of Boney Ridge. The story runs about 15,300 words across 12 chapters, and is aimed at junior grade children (early readers), but may also be of interest to those in the middle grades. The story covers themes of confidence, friendship and cultural sensitivity. Available in print and e-book.
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