Welcome to #TheQuickSixInterview with Pamela Jones!
It’s such a delight to welcome children’s author, poet and podcaster, Pamela Jones here today to share her beautiful, sweet and nostalgic debut picture book, Ayla’s Christmas Wish. In creating this story, Pamela was inspired by the hay bale art in towns across Australia, from Tarrington in Victoria’s West to rural Kalbar in South East Queensland. This ebullient exploration of a favourite time of year for many celebrates Australia’s warm summer Christmas, and highlights the resourcefulness of a little girl who wishes to make this holiday season as traditional as possible, despite living in a hot, dry country town. Complete with a gorgeously glowing and balmy colour palette and utterly joyful illustrations by Lucia Masciullo, Ayla’s Christmas Wish is a gift of a book that is sure to fulfil every heart’s wish this festive season. 🙂
About the Author
Pamela Jones is a British-born children’s author and poet. Her poetry and short stories have appeared on the Australian Children’s Poetry website, The School Magazine and The Dirigible Balloon, and she has written for various publications about expat living, motherhood and home education. She is also a reviewer for the CBCA publication Reading Time. Pamela lives in Melbourne/Naarm with her family and her growing collection of books and ballet shoes. Ayla’s Christmas Wish is her debut picture book.
Visit Pamela Jones at her website: Pamela Jones – Children’s Author & Poet (pamelajonesbooks.com) and on Facebook and Instagram.
Ayla’s Christmas Wish can be purchased via NLA Publishing online and in all good bookstores.
WHO wrote, illustrated and published this book?
WHAT is it about?
It’s about a young girl who lives in a country town in Victoria. It’s hot and dry, and she’s getting ready for Christmas. She’s going through her checklist, but there’s one thing she can’t check off: a snowman. Everyone tells her it’s too hot for a snowman. On Christmas Eve she wishes for a snowman and she gets her wish in the form of a snowman made from hay bales.
What is your favourite part of this book?
One of my favourite spreads is one in which Santa has come to town on a fire truck. It’s such a great illustration and really shows the incongruity between Christmas tradition and the Australian culture and heat.
In terms of the story, I don’t think anything can match the relief in the resolution when Ayla gets her wish.
WHEN did you begin writing this book?
I wrote it in November 2021, shortly after our longest pandemic lockdown in Melbourne.
When is its release / launch date?
November 1st, 2023.
WHERE did the inspiration for this book come from?
It was inspired by a small town in the Southern Grampians Shire that has German roots. Each year they hold the Laternenfest in November, which comes from the celebration of Saint Martin, the protector of children. As part of the festival they hold a hay bale art competition—the residents pay a small fee to have hay bales delivered to their house and then they get creative. I was so taken with the creativity and wit of these hay bale designs that I just had to write about them. A lot of the designs are Christmas themed and they are available to see well into December so it led me to thinking about European Christmas traditions and their suitability to the Australian climate and culture.
WHY is this book meaningful to you?
It speaks to me as a little girl who loved Christmas in England and then had to adjust to celebrating in a hot country. I love the mix of new and old traditions that I have with my own kids and I hope the book will help others to create new traditions.
Why would its message resonate with readers?
I think wishing for something impossible for Christmas will resonate with lots of children and seeing that creative problem solving will hopefully inspire them in different ways. I hope they feel satisfied by the resolution!
HOW do you feel about the illustrations / cover design? How do they convey the feeling or mood you envisioned?
I was thrilled to find out that Lucia Masciullo would be illustrating the book, and Hannah Janzen designing the cover. I have a lot of respect for them both and have admired their work in the past. They’ve done a wonderful job conveying my vision and creating an Australian Christmas-themed picture book with its own colour palette and its own mood that reflects the story. The cover cleverly hints at the story without giving too much away.
How have you promoted this book and how can we find it?
NLA have done a great job of reaching out to bookshops to organise signings as well as an interview with ABC Radio Canberra. I have promoted it on social media in the leadup to the launch and reached out to book bloggers, industry newsletters, and local newspapers in central Victoria. I’ll also be visiting the Tarrington hay bales once again this year to admire their wonderful designs.
The book is available in local book stores and online.
OTHER information or experiences you’d like to share?
One of the aspects that I enjoyed about this process was writing the teacher notes. It was fun to delve into the various themes that the book presented and think about how these could be applied in an educational setting in a way that was inspiring and fun.
Find the teaching notes for Ayla’s Christmas Wish here.
What a stunning, nostalgic and beautiful story! Thank you, Pamela! And hoping all your wishes come true this Christmas! 🙂
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