My Books

My Books

Friday, 13 December 2013

BLOG TOUR - 'A Christmas Tail' by Helen Ross and Donna Smith

Currently Donna Smith and Helen Ross are celebrating the release of their co-authored children’s Christmas picture book A Christmas Tail, fabulously illustrated by Aaron Pocock.  After the festivities of last week’s cyber book launch of their new book, Donna and Helen kindly dropped by my writing corner.

So welcome Donna and Helen. What a gorgeous book! I bet you're having a ball promoting it.
Thank you Dawn for inviting us.  It is indeed a busy time for us, but we are having lots of fun.

My pleasure. So what's it about?
A Christmas Tail is about a mouse family (with the surname Mouse) who live in a doll’s house called Cherrywood Cottage. They are full of excitement as they await the arrival of Santa Paws. However, all doesn’t go to plan, setting about a hilarious twist to their Christmas festivities. The characters and story are brought to life by the exquisite illustrations of Aaron Pocock.  We just love the illustrations.
Donna Smith
How did the book come to be?
Donna:   Helen and I had only spoken to each other once via phone before I approached her about collaborating on a picture book series based on a mouse family. I had this idea for some time and thought Helen and I could work well together, if she was interested in collaborating with me. 

Helen: I was interested.  After discussions about the style of picture book we wanted to create we both immediately thought Aaron Pocock’s style would be perfect.  So Donna emailed Aaron to see if he was interested and available.  Lucky for us he was, and lucky for me that he lives in Logan as we were able to meet and discuss the text and illustrations. 

Donna: Aaron’s illustrations are just gorgeous and compliment the text perfectly. The illustrations are intricate, whimsical and fun.

Helen Ross
Is there a message you want your young readers to take from reading A Christmas Tail?
Whilst A Christmas Tail is meant to be entertaining and engage the reader, it is also about friendship between unlikely friends and the joy that Christmas can bring.  I think a recent review from Creative Kids Tales ( sums the message up quite well.

"Kindness is a common theme for Christmas stories and this is the central message here. Peter, despite being the baby of the family, has compassion for those less fortunate than himself. The idea of a child being more open-minded and accepting than his/her elders is not a new concept in picture books. Nevertheless, it is an important lesson for both adults and children, at any time of the year." It is a great topic that parents and educators can discuss with their children, and picture books are a wonderful way of doing so.
Aaron Pocock

What attracts readers to read your book?
The cover is absolutely gorgeous – very Christmassy and cute. This draws immediate interest from children, parents and teachers; even from older readers (i.e. the young at heart) - and of course, anyone who loves chlidren’s picture books. Once you start reading, the story unfolds. There are a couple of mishaps that are quite funny in both the story line and illustrations. From all the book readings that we have done so far, it seems that readers have their favourite page. The story is easy to read, and from all reviews, well paced.

Was it difficult collaborating on a project when you both live in different states? (Donna resides in Melbourne whilst Helen lives in Brisbane).

The story mainly came together via emails and texts.  In the beginning, we had some lengthy telephone conversations nutting out ideas, characters, story line, title and similar. However, after receiving the bills (Aaaarrghghh!!!) we decided to rely on FaceBook chats (when suitable), texting and emails. As we have similar ideas, creativity wise, the story unfolded relatively easy via emails.

Did you have an editor?
We worked very hard on ‘polishing’ the text before sending it off for assessment. We then sent it to Sally Odgers, well known children’s author, writer/poet and manuscript assessor. We were very happy with her feedback (hard work pays off), and we really only had a few minor adjustments to make. Before the story went to print, it was also copy edited by Dalida Boustead.

Where can we find out more?
Review links at:

  • All review links are at:
Where can we purchase A Christmas Tail?
A Christmas Tail – By Donna M Smith and Helen Ross. Illustrated by Aaron Pocock
Paperback: 36 pages
Publisher: Spider Ink Press
ISBN: 9780987306715
Trim size: 280 x 210 mm

A Christmas Tail is available in Hardback through book stores, but easily available on Amazon and major online bookstores. Also available as an eBook on Kindle and iTunes.
Amazon: (Hardback and eBook)-

Links available at

Thanks so much Donna and Helen for dropping by and chatting about your new picture book! I'm sure it will be a wonderful success.

Thanks Dawn. It has been our pleasure.

About the Authors

Donna Smith is an award winning children’s author who lives in Victoria with her husband and their three children. Donna has had several children’s stories and poems published in various anthologies, journals and as chapter books. Donna has also written over forty academic titles for the Adult Education sector and completed an Arts degree in 2012. When Donna is not writing she enjoys piano, art, skiing and triathlons. You can visit Donna at and

Helen Ross (nee McKenzie) was born in Melbourne, Australia. As a former primary and kindergarten teacher, Helen has always loved the magic of books. She loves writing, photography, travel and art, and has won awards for her children’s poetry. Her quirky sense of humour is embedded in many of her children’s stories and giggle poetry. She also enjoys visiting schools and conducting giggle poetry workshops around Australia; hence, she always has a bag packed ready to go.

Helen lives in sunny Brisbane with her humorous husband and their beloved pets.
More information about Helen’s other published children’s books can be found at her website: and blog at
Aaron Pocock, born into a large family in the South of England, has been living in
Brisbane, Australia, since 2000 and has been an illustrator for 20 years or so.
As well as drawing, painting and many other pursuits that keep his mind active and nimble, Aaron is also a musician and plays a mean Blues guitar. Aaron is married, has two children and works in a big studio where he scribbles away at drawings and paintings for books and things. More of his work can be found at: and

cheers, Dawn


  1. Thanks Dawn for inviting us to your blogspot. We had a lot of fun. Merry Christmas, Donna and Helen

  2. I'm happy to see this book in print now. I've been associated with all three creators on and off for quite a while, and actually I think I worked with all three on the Book for Fiji project. This is a lovely Christmassy tale...tail...


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