Writing Little Dog and the Summer Holiday

In October last year, Little Dog and the Summer Holiday, a sequel to Little Dog and the Christmas Wish, was launched at Collins Booksellers in Croydon. We gathered to celebrate Little Dog’s next adventure, Prince Harry the westie invited his friends to the party and we even had Peter’s superb 1950’s caravan.

Part of my launch speech follows, which gives some background to the story of the way good old-fashioned holidays used to be.

‘Thank you Natalie Thomas, former Croydon Mayor for launching.

For this book I drew on my childhood memories of a holiday I took with my parents and sister when I was 8 years old. Our little brother was yet to be born. I would like to add that it was a little later than 1957, there was no Little Dog (as I recall we were between dogs – Jip and Bluey) but everything else is pretty much what we did way back then.

My dad used to build our caravans and there was one incident he relayed often – as he was making his way along the plywood with his saw, there appeared in front of him five little fingers – my, little 3-year-old fingers – apparently I was helping him and my fingers were lucky.

I was also lucky that Robin agreed to illustrate my old Shell passport which is full of the Shell Service Station stamps where we stopped along the way, my doll ‘Fairy’ and three years ago when we packed up our parents’ house, I found my bathers which Mum had placed safely for me to find, and for Annie to wear.

I would like to thank Maryann Ballantyne for indulging me and allowing me to send Little Dog on another adventure, Black Dog Books and Donna Rawlins, Artistic Director Walker Books Australia, Robin Cowcher for so many beautiful illustrations and exacting research, my husband Grant for driving up and down, up and down Pretty Sally while I took 100 photos to make sure that the twinkling lights of Melbourne, back in 1957, would have been visible from the top of Pretty Sally.

Thank you Laraine and Mark from Collins Croydon for hosting today and of course Prince Harry who sat as the model for illustrations and for inviting his Westie friends today.

Many of you will know that Harry and I found each other 3 years ago (now over 4 years) when I wandered in here to buy a book for a friend, and there was Harry. Since then Harry and I have had a few adventures, like the time Grant offered him a giant lump of white Christmas – and Harry heaved and nearly choked on it in front of the Chanel counter at the Myer Bourke Steet entrance – and another time Harry and I squeezed along the back of the Myer windows so I could toss Harry into the windows for a weather shot on Morning Sunrise. (Later there was the Geelong train ‘incident’ in November last year.)

And thank you Peter for bringing along your precious caravan here today for us all to take a trip down memory lane and get a glimpse of what good old-fashioned holidays used to be like back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

Here is just a small reading –

‘Each night everyone sat outside their tents and caravans playing board games as an eggshell moon glimmered high above. Little Dog made new friends, and the children played Hide and Seek and Catch the Thief until their parents called them in for bed.’

And thank you all of you for coming along today. I’ll now pass over to illustrator, Robin Cowcher.’

Afterwards –  a big day for a little dog.



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