When Parfitt’s, the struggling local soft drink company, decides to sell to a global brand it looks as though Katie’s mother will lose her job and with it the huge rambling house that Katie’s great-grandfather built. The Old Queenslander is the only home that Katie has ever known. All of her friends live in her street and her garden is their local hang-out. Desperate to save her mother’s job, Katie recruits her friends to begin an advertising campaign that will draw Parfitt’s away from its simple roots and into the modern world.
A group of Australian teens making their own company and finding a mystery to solve in the process sounds so delightfully Teen Power Inc. that I had to check Parfizz Pitch out. It lived up to expectations in many ways – and in some ways did not.
Like the members of Teen Power Inc. the group of friends who band together to make the Mosquito Advertising agency are very different to each other and have equally dissimilar backgrounds. Katie is the only child of a single mother. Clementine is the youngest in a large family of intellectuals. Dominic goes to boarding school while his family work overseas. Their differences mean that the group does not always get along and on occasion will misunderstand one another. Though they have strong ties, they sometimes work toward opposing goals or toward the same goal but with different methods.
Unlike Teen Power Inc., Parfizz Pitch does not embrace racial diversity. The only character that is identified as a person of colour is unpleasant from his first appearance, and never redeems himself. And sure, every race has its share of terrible people but that shouldn’t be the only thing that’s depicted.
Hopefully this is something that will be addressed further as the series progresses. Adventure-mysteries for teens don’t come along nearly as often as they should and the Mosquito Advertising series has a different take on it as well as having a strong cast of female characters.
This series has been likened to the Famous Five, and it’s true, but Parfizz Pitch is modern take on the children’s mystery genre. More of a middle-grade read than teen, it perfectly captures the long, balmy days of a Brisbane summer.
The Parfizz Pitch – Kate Hunter
University of Queensland Press (May 31, 2010)