Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday 4 December 2020

Reginald’s Christmas

Join Tasmanian creators, Patricia Pettett and Narelda Joy, as they talk about their collaborations on a delightful Christmas story about a mouse called Reginald.

Reginald's Christmas, by Praticia Pettet and Narelda Joy
Published by Forty South
Patricia Pettett: 

This year I wrote my first children’s picture book ‘Reginald’s Christmas’. It emanated from a short Christmas story enclosed in my Christmas cards last year. Several friends contacted me and pushed me into publishing so finally I submitted it online to a London Publishing Firm. Much to my surprise it was accepted, but Covid 19 made it too difficult to proceed with an overseas firm, so I submitted it to Forty South in Hobart where it was positively received. A wonderful outcome, as their acceptance makes the book an all-Tasmanian production!


Reginald is a tiny mouse who sneaks out of his mouse hole on Christmas Eve and has a grand adventure in the lounge room. Christmas cake, an angel, Santa, toys – he discovers them all, and what a night it turns out to be!


My illustrator, Narelda Joy, from North West Tasmania, made this little mouse come to life and she and I lived with him for weeks!  Because the book needed to be released well before Christmas, time wise she was put under tremendous pressure but never once complained. The pictures are delightful and complement my words beautifully. 


It has been a new journey for me to enter the publishing world but I’m thrilled with the finished product and proud to see it on bookshop shelves.


Narelda Joy:

I was emailed by a friend of Patricia’s earlier this year saying that her friend needed an illustrator for a book. Patricia used to live in the North West, but now lives in Launceston, about 2 ½ hours away from me, so we have never met. I contacted Patricia and heard the smile in her voice when said she wasn’t sure what to do with the story, but that it was her friends who were pushing her to publish it! She sent me a copy of the text for Reginald’s Christmas, and I encouraged her to send it to some publishers and see what happened. I was sure Reginald was destined to be born! 

I could visualise him straight away. I love animals and have always loved drawing and making stylised mice, in 2D and 3D, so I was delighted to see the protagonist was a mouse! I sketched mouse ideas in pencil until I found the right character look, and then took the sketch into Photoshop to produce a colour sample for Patricia. There was lots of toing and froing; the story, my portfolio, and then the sample image of Reginald, were approved by the London Publisher and then Covid 19 hit…what timing! Reginald proved to be a resilient little mouse however, and came back to Tasmania to be officially born! 

Art work © Narelda Joy, from Reginald's Christmas

One of my favourite parts of being an illustrator is bringing a text to life. In the planning stage I reminisced my colourful childhood Christmases with shiny baubles on the tree, red stockings and patterned wrapping papers. I work in many different illustration styles and love them all, but most often I am described as textural illustrator. Patricia requested bright colours on a white page background, and I happily worked with this, thoroughly enjoying digitally painting the bright happy scenes. I find it very relaxing, and often listen to a talking book while I work.

Patricia was wonderful to work with and I’m delighted to see her dream of publishing a book come to life. I think it’s a great achievement for a retired primary school teacher, after years of reading books to students, to finally have to have very own in print. As for Reginald, perhaps on Christmas Eve I may just see him creeping out of that little hole in my hallway skirting board… although I’ll be sure not to disturb his Christmas adventure. I do hope my illustrations convey the fun Reginald has, and brings joy to many little ones at Christmas.      

Editor's note - if you would like to bring Reginald into your house for Christmas, visit Tasmanian bookstores or order online from Forty South.                                             

Patricia Pettett is a retired primary school teacher from the North West coast, now living in Launceston. She belongs to three writing clubs and has always dreamed of publishing her own book. 

Narelda Joy lives on the NW coast of Tasmania. As well as illustrating children’s books, she specialises in unique textural two and three dimensional illustrations, collage, characters and puppets. You can view and purchase Nareleda’s artworks from her website.


Read about her adventures and school visits on her blog.


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