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Famous children’s author Hazel Edwards is a fan of our Toy Library

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

by Melina Byrne.

Hazel Edwards is the bestselling author of There's A Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake,’ which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. This book was given to the children of the Princess Mary of Denmark as an official Australian Government gift.

Richmond Toy Library (RTL): We appreciate your support of our Facebook page. What do you like about toy libraries?

Hazel Edwards: As an author, literacy ambassador and a grandmother of four, I’ve always supported the concept of toy libraries.

They provide ‘big’ and stimulating toys, inexpensively, for short periods when that toy is of greatest interest to the child.

As a minimalist, and visitor to many cluttered play rooms, I like the idea of recycling and sharing.

But they also provide a social contact for parents juggling small children and all their other roles. And libraries are fun to visit as a date on the calendar. As an author, I became involved with one Toy Library when the organisers wanted to add book-bags for loan linked with relevant toys. The Toy Library asked me to talk to parents about easy ways of sharing a book, even if parents didn’t consider themselves good readers. So I did.

RTL: Do your grandchildren like toy libraries?

Hazel Edwards: My Darwin-based grandsons are fans of their NT Toy Library and when I read picture books to them on Zoom, I’m often given a ‘demo’ of the fortnightly item from the Toy Library. Great for constructions skills or musical instruments. Favourite toys include: any with wheels.

Recently my family was in Howard Springs COVID-19 Quarantine for a fortnight with their young family of a 2 year old and a baby. With few toys, they improvised. Excellent wifi, so kind children’s entertainers (who I’d worked with as an author) daily shared ideas for physical activities. The ‘Dear Arlo’ story came from this experience.

‘Dear Arlo: Stories of Lockdown and Quarantine’

RTL: Are you working on any new books?

Hazel Edwards: Apart from the ‘Dear Arlo’ story, which was recorded by Monash University Education PlayLab to share ‘playing’ ideas for parents, I’ve been re-issuing earlier stories in new formats such as e-books and audio. These have been requested by adult fans remembering their childhood favourites.

These might make good family serials to read aloud to mixed aged children or even to share on Zoom.

1) SkinZipped: A sunburnt girl who unzips her skin and becomes see-through.

2) Mum on Wheels: When Lee’s mum comes home in a wheelchair, she and Grandad create a garden of herbs on wheels, with a bit of magic.

3) Hijabi Girl; Making Friends: Feisty Melek wants to start a girls’ footy team. Zac prefers soccer. Rattus Rattus, the class rat, gets in the way.

4) Creative parents and educators may be interested in my memoir ‘Not Just a Piece of Cake; Being an Author’ which is now also available on AUDIBLE. It’s about creativity, taking risks, juggling family life and being an author, long term. I just did a podcast about this memoir with Nathan Phillips of The Regulator, which is from the Words and Nerds podcast group. RTL: Can you recommend any children’s book authors? Hazel Edwards: Author/illustrators whose work I’d recommend include: 1) Felicity Marshall’s beautiful picture books about bees. 2) And books with Serena Geddes illustrations (including our ‘Hijabi Girl’ series)

About Hazel Edwards:

Hazel Edwards, O.A.M., is an award-winning author of over 200 books for children and adults. Her beloved picture book 'There's A Hippopotamus On Our Roof Eating Cake’ has been hugely popular for over 40 years, inspiring a musical stage production and a short film. Hazel is an Australia Reads Ambassador. You can find out more at her website:


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