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Following on from THE WISH PONY, Catherine Bateson's new novel returns to the world of magic realism to chart the stormy waters of a child's grief.

When grief strikes, you need an ally. For Mimi, that ally is Ableth, the wildly disobedient blue slave. He comes, he goes, he says and does whatever he likes, but he's always there when Mimi needs him most, offering his own brand of crooked wisdom.

Ableth says, 'You need to learn to look under the surface of things. Look at water. It's just a great expanse of blue with little wavelets and riffs of foam. But underneath the surface are whole worlds of wonder. There are treasures and wrecks and bones . . .'

But it's hard to look beneath the surface when your Mum is shipwrecked by despair, and you're the only one left to keep things afloat. There's a bric-a-brac shop to run, your first Christmas without a dad, and quite possibly a fugitive taking refuge in your back shed.

This warm, captivating story celebrates the odd families we make, as well as those we are born into.


A lovely story about ordinary families, schoolyard friendships, and the possibility of kindly powers alive in our streets. Ages 9 to 12-ish.


No-one does the disaffected girl like Bateson . . . This book will be devoured by Bateson's many fans.


I was really touched by this story . . . Bateson handles the issue of the death of a parent adeptly, enclosing it within a beautifully written story. This book is ideally suited for girls aged eight to eleven.

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    September 1, 2010

    Woolshed Press

    144 pages

    RRP $16.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 1, 2010

    Random House Australia

    224 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Catherine Bateson

The Wish Pony
Magenta McPhee
Being Bee
His Name in Fire
Millie & The Night Heron
The Air Dancer of Glass
Painted Love Letters
The Year It All Happened
A Dangerous Girl


Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One
The Getaway: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (BK12)
Undercover Princess
Love, Simon
If I Stay
Alice-Miranda At School 1
Midnight Jewel
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator
Thirteen Reasons Why
George's Marvellous Medicine
Pippa's Island 3: Kira Dreaming
A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Truth and Lies of Ella Black
Library Of Souls
Friday Barnes 6: Danger Ahead
Our Australian Girl: The Lina Stories