Archive for April, 2009


Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail  (Aussie Nibble) by Julie Nickerson      

Illustrated by Janine Dawson

(Published by Puffin Books – Penguin Group Australia)

PB RRP: $12.95

Everything is set for Pippa’s perfect birthday party. She has the perfect party dress, the perfect birthday cake and eight perfect ponies lined up for rides. Now all she needs is the perfect ponytail.

But when her hairdresser falls sick, disaster strikes Pippa in her quest for perfection. She seeks help from some unlikely sources, and this leads to some very funny outcomes.

Julie Nickerson skilfully builds up the tension as you begin to wonder whether Pippa’s party is going to end in complete disaster.

The great descriptions in this book, clever dialogue, and Janine Dawson’s outrageously funny illustrations made me laugh out loud.

What I liked about Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail is that Pippa found the solution to the problem all by herself, without help from any adults. She also learned something about herself along the way.

 With its likeable heroine, great humour and party theme, this new Aussie Nibble is a fun book to read.



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pippa-front-coverToday, Aussie Nibbles author, Julie Nickerson has dropped in for a visit.

Her hilarious book, Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail is out now. This is what it’s about:

Pippa is having a birthday party She has the perfect party dress, the birthday cake and eight perfect ponies lined up for rides. Now all she needs is to have her hair done in a perfect ponytail! But disaster strikes – the hairdresser is sick and can’t do Pippa’s hair! Pippa goes to her cook, her groom and her dressmaker, but although they all do their best, none of them knows a thing about ponytails. Pippa will just have to do her perfect ponytail herself….

Julie Nickerson liked to make her own books when she was young, but didn’t consider a career in writing and became a medical scientist instead. When she started writing for her own children, she realised that working with words was what she really wanted to do.

Here’s Julie’s ‘in depth’ interview about her book, Pippa’s Perfect Ponytail, and how she wrote it.

Q.  Have you ever had a moment as embarrassing as Pippa?

Leaving your fly undone is always bad. That’s all I want to say about that.

Q.  Do you know how to do the perfect pony tail?

Well, it depends whose ponytail you’re talking about. If it’s someone else’s ponytail, I could probably do a pretty good job. But if the ponytail is on my own head, we’re in trouble because I’ve never been good at doing my own hair. How you’re supposed to look in the mirror and be able to see the back of your head at the same time is beyond me.

Q.  Where did you get the idea for the story from?

I had been writing a lot of stories for my two boys, and decided that my next story would be for little girls. I had to come up with a topic that would be of interest to girls and, for whatever reason, a ponytail sprung to mind. This didn’t get me too far though as ponytails don’t really do very much. So I decided that making my character a princess would solve that problem but, alas, it didn’t – even ponytails on princesses are pretty boring. I gave up for a while, but then one day I was thinking about all the different people who live in castles, and my ponytail idea came back to me. The wheels whizzed and whirled in my head and pretty soon I knew that if other people (who usually don’t have a thing to do with little girls’ ponytails) had to do the princess’ ponytail, then that could make for a funny story.

Originally, I wrote the manuscript as a picture book text, but after receiving feedback from several sources, I rewrote it as a chapter book and cut out the princess bit. It all then eventually, and magically, fell into place.

Q.  What qualities do you think you need to be a writer?

Persistence; persistence to finish the story, persistence to edit it to a publishable standard, and then persistence to keep sending it out. Being stubborn helps. As does having a wicked imagination, a love of storytelling, and a passion for being creative.

Q.  How did you feel when you picked up your first copy of Pippa and it had your name on it?

It was wonderful. Luckily, my husband and sons happened to be home when it arrived so we got to open the package together. I carried a copy around with me for a long time. Maybe I still do …

Q.  Did you ever cut your own hair when you were little?jules-smal-pic

Goodness, no! What if I made a mess of it?! Dee, how can you even suggest it … I’m horrified.

I actually never cut my own hair until I wrote this story. I felt like I needed to know what it would feel like to cut my own hair, so I considered it ‘research’. I very bravely cut my own fringe (didn’t do too bad a job, actually) and have since done it several times when my fringe has needed a trim between haircuts. However, bringing scissors close to my head still makes me nervous, so I prefer to leave that job to my hairdresser.

Q.  Do you have any tips for kids who would like to be writers?

Read lots, believe in yourself, and keep writing.

Try not to fuss too much with the first draft of a story. Just get your ideas and storyline down on paper and don’t worry about getting the words right straight away. That’s what rewriting and editing are for. And writers get to do LOTS of rewriting and editing!

Q.  What sort of stories did you like to read when you were a kid?

When I was very young, I love rhyming stories and anything with a cat in it. As I got older, I loved books by Enid Blyton, mystery stories (Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys), and anything with a cat in it.

When I was in early high school, I remember borrowing a book about a teenage girl (it didn’t have a cat in it as far as I can remember) who wanted to be a ballerina, but she developed an illness and couldn’t pursue her dream. The story was very sad and I found myself crying as I read it. This was the first time a book had made me cry, and I couldn’t believe that a book could have such power. It wasn’t like watching a show on TV where you could see the characters and watch what was happening – these were just words typed on a page. On that day I realised how powerful words can be when a writer puts them in the right order. I’ve been in awe of great writers ever since.

Hardest part about being a writer

Getting the words right.

Best part about being a writer

Getting the words right.

Thanks so much for visiting us Julie. I really enjoyed reading Pippa, and was relieved to hear how things turned out for her in the end.

Hope you’ll visit again.







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Letters to Leonardo Cover

I just love this cover for my new YA novel Letters to Leonardo, coming out with Walker Books Australia on 1st July.

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