Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 21, 2023

Book Giveaway: THE HATS OF MARVELLO by Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham has written a new picture book, THE HATS OF MARVELLO illustrated by Lavanya Naidu and published by HarperCollins, which came out on Tuesday March 8th. Amanda has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States or Australia.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Amanda and Lavanya.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


A delightfully fantastical story for middle-grade readers that sparkles with magic and mystery. Perfect for Emily Rodda fans.

No matter how much Olive longs for a pet rabbit, it’s never going to happen. Not when she lives in an Australian country town where most people think they’re a pest.

So imagine Olive’s shock when she unexpectedly finds not one, but one hundred and one rabbits. And one of them can talk!

How Olive will ever be able to hide and protect the rabbits is going to be her greatest challenge, and all while preparing for the Year 5 play. At least she has her costume ready, although the old top hat she found in the local op-shop seems very odd.


There is something thrilling about a wild sandy beach that stretches far into the distance. It used to be the grandeur of open space and the peace it brings that I found invigorating. These days, there’s an extra dimension. As a writer I have found that walking, uninterrupted, beside the sea, deliberately thinking and not thinking, allowing thoughts to drift in and out, is a useful way to spend time. It brings with it the promise of a new story, as ideas come and go, briefly dance with each other, and occasionally come together to form the kernel of a book.

A writer friend said there is a creativity that comes from breathing in the salty sea air. ‘It’s to do with the composition of the spray formed by the waves rolling in,’ she said. Whether it was the ocean air, or just the peace of the seashore, it was while walking along a beach in South Australia 15 years ago that ideas gathered to form the core of The Hats Of Marvello. They included an ill-tempered magician who blamed his tools rather than his craft for everything that went wrong, a hundred white rabbits who were at his mercy, and two magical top hats that allowed rabbits, or a person, to travel through a portal from one hat to the other, no matter where in the world they were. Click!

Until this stage in my writing career I had only written short stories, all under 1000 words – mostly picture books and stories for early reading series. At first I tried to squish my new ideas into a 32-page format, but it felt like trying to squeeze a whale into a fishbowl. It was quite clear I had a bigger fish on the line – a book for junior readers, or maybe even a novel.

A novel! What a daunting proposition. ‘I don’t write novels!’ I thought. But, having fallen in love with my idea, as writers often do, I decided to give it a go. How hard could it be? After all, there was the internet, which provided information and advice on all sort of topics – surely it must have information on how to write a novel. And I remember asking a novelist friend about her work. ‘It must be much harder than writing a short story,’ I said. ‘Not really,’ she replied. ‘It’s just a matter of writing from one character’s point of view, and then another’s.’ Like I said – easy!

So I picked one of the many websites spruiking advice about preparation for a novel, and began to write – character descriptions, motivations, character backgrounds. At some stage I became bored with this and jumped straight into writing the narrative. I once read that some authors carefully plan to the last detail before beginning their narrative, while others jump in without any preparation, to see where the road leads them. I guess my unsophisticated approach was somewhere in between.

Over the ensuing years I dipped in and out of ‘my novel project’. Occasionally it worked its way to the front of the queue as I completed other work with real deadlines. I spent time on it, rethinking, reshaping, rewriting. Eventually I committed to it, which meant saying ‘Oh, I’m writing on a novel,’ whenever anyone asked the question, ‘What are you working on at the moment?’ And it meant more writing, writing, writing.

Two things happened next. First, I showed the opening chapters to a writer/publishing consultant who I’d known and respected for years, Dyan Blacklock. After carefully reading the chapters, she offered feedback about going forward and suggested I finish the manuscript and send it to her again. Around the same time, I nervously read the chapters to my writing group friends. Each of them was very positive and said I should keep working away. One of them, Tan Ingram, was keen to read the whole thing once I’d finished.

So there it was. All a writer really needs to go on – encouragement from respected, admired colleagues and friends.

Over the next year the manuscript was finished, and I sent it to Dyan and Tan. Both came back to me with almost identical feedback. They loved the first half – ‘exciting’, ‘intriguing’, ‘great characters’, but the second half was a mess; ‘confusing’, ‘loses momentum’ … I’ll leave it there. The thought of reworking the manuscript was overwhelming, but given the investment of my time so far, and now the investment of friends’ time, I thought I had to give it a crack. I kept what was OK and set about weaving it into a new, stronger, viable narrative. This was by far the most brain-aching, mind-stretching, thrilling part of the process, and it was exhilarating to find that, despite the roadblocks and potholes and long detours, I really did like this kind of writing and the mental process it involved. I liked writing a novel.

Once finished, and further tweaked, Dyan acted as my agent and sent the manuscript to several publishers. After a couple of rejections, she came back with happy news that Lisa Berryman from Harper Collins Australia wanted to chat. After the chat Lisa made an offer and we signed a contact with HC. Yippee!

It was a new experience to work with a large publisher, having only worked with smaller, local houses before. I got to know Lisa and her professional team through phone calls and emails. Editors raised new questions about the text leading to more rethinking and writing. Lavanya Naidu began illustrating the story (what lively, well-crafted artwork!) and over the next year or so The Hats Of Marvello materialised into a real live, beautifully designed and produced, book.

It is hard to conceive that it began with a walk along a wild sandy beach.


Amanda Graham has enjoyed writing and drawing since she was young. In Year Three she wrote and illustrated her first story. It was about a group of adventurous mice who travelled to the moon. After discovering it was made of green cheese, they ate it.

Later Amanda began writing picture books while studying to be a primary school teacher. Her first published book, Arthur (Era Publications; Who Wants Arthur? in US), was illustrated by Donna Gynell. It won the UK Children’s Federation Award and was short-listed for the CBCA Awards (Australia). Watching Donna bring words to life through pictures inspired Amanda to study illustration, and go on to create the artwork for some of her own stories, and those of other authors.

Amanda has written and/or illustrated over one hundred titles, fiction and nonfiction, for educational publisher, Era Publications (now Era Books), while also working in the trade sector.

Her titles include Smart Dad (Omnibus Books), Fancy Pants (author Kelly Hibbert, Little Book Press), and Picasso the green tree frog (illustrated John Siow, Era Books). Her most recent title, and first novel, is The Hats of Marvello (illustrated by Lavanya Naidu, Harper Collins Australia).

Amanda lives in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, with her husband. When she’s not working in her studio, you’ll find her teaching at a local school, puddling about in the back garden, or rambling somewhere through the bush.


Lavanya Naidu is an animator, designer and award-winning children’s book illustrator, born and raised in Kolkata, India. She has illustrated for numerous children’s books. Her work has most recently been featured at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content as a selection for their Digital Gallery 2020. Lavanya now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Lavanya Naidu is a children’s book illustrator and animator, born and raised in Kolkata, India. Over the last decade she has worked on numerous kids’ books, animation projects and animation production. She now lives in Melbourne, Australia and recently completed her role as the head of design and episode director on the animated kids series The Strange Chores (season 2). In her spare time Lavanya enjoys collecting dinosaur models and tending to her ever-growing collection of plants!

Amanda, thank you for sharing you book and journey with us. This is delightful, magical adventure story. The text is filled with suspense, and funny, original clever white rabbits. It is sure to keep readers spellbound. Lavanya’s stunning cover and the black and white interior illustrations are sure to spur children’s imaginations and keep them riveted to the very last page. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I’m very excited about this book! Not only is it by an Australian author and set in Australia, but it’s about a kid who wants a pet rabbit – my current reality as my 6-year-old is begging for one. Let’s just hope if we do decide to get her a rabbit that it won’t turn into 101 of them! 😉


    • Oh and I also shared on Twitter and


  2. Hmm, I’ve tried to stuff a few whales into fishbowls myself–love this description of the manuscript’s development! The story and illustrations look amazing.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing your novel’s journey. I’m excited to read your book.


  4. I shared on FB and Twitter. This sounds great! Loved hearing the journey too.


  5. I enjoy reading journeys to publication–always an inspiration. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and tumblr.


  6. This looks like a beautiful book. What a journey! Thanks for the post. I subscribe by email to your blog.


  7. So much fun! This is a great journey to publication post! Thanks for sharing with us, and congratulations!
    I follow by email and tweeted this post. 🙂


  8. How intriguing!! Thanks for sharing your journey. This book looks delightful. Congrats, Amanda!


  9. Thanks for sharing your writing journey. I love the idea of Olive trying to hide and protect a hundred rabbits. Plus magic and mystery! (I shared


  10. Don’t you wish writing was as easy as pulling a rabbit from a hat? Congratulations!


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