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Pinerolo – the Children’s Book Cottage

Located in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney, is Pinerolo Children’s Book Cottage. Run by Margaret Hamilton AM and her daughter Melissa, Pinerolo is a unique establishment in NSW, and has become a mecca for anyone interested in children’s picture books.

Margaret’s passion for picture books, her enthusiasm for Australian illustrators, and her recognition of the need for wider promotion of picture books, led her to establish Pinerolo, with Melissa, a graphic design professional who is responsible for the creative direction of Pinerolo.

Pinerolo was originally the Hamilton’s home. The decision to transform the original two-bedroom cottage into Pinerolo set off a long ‘to do’ list, which included pulling up old carpet, ‘doing up’ the house, polishing the floorboards, preparing the artwork for hanging and installing professional art tracks.

On opening day, 13 November 2010, nearly two hundred people turned up. Since then Pinerolo has gone from strength to strength.

Pinerolo provides a unique venue for the permanent exhibition of original Australian picture book artworks, and work by illustrators in residence. It is the only place of its kind in New South Wales with original picture book artworks that Margaret has collected. It also offers selected pieces of artwork for sale.

It aims to educate both children and adults in an inspiring environment. As well as the opportunity to view the exhibitions, it offers a range of courses, including ‘Picture Books @ Pinerolo’, where Margaret is joined by an award-winning author or illustrator, a research collection of children’s books, and books about children’s literature, and an exciting writers & artists in residence program.

They also welcome group and school visits with programs and workshops for school students and teachers.

Margaret’s latest project here at Pinerolo is a free library which is their gift to our community in these troubled times, said Margaret.

“With schools, libraries and bookshops closed parents must be struggling to home school their children and keep them occupied. We put this up a few days ago and it’s had visitors every day, which is very satisfying”

“I also love highlighting the success of people who have been associated with Pinerolo. Some call themselves ‘a graduate of Pinerolo’. Whether they have been participants in one of our picture book courses or illustrators in residence, it’s wonderful to see them realising their dream of a published picture book and I’m very happy to have been, in some way, helpful. It’s very satisfying!”

These books highlight Pinerlo ‘graduates’ reports Margaret:

DUCK, APPLE, EGG

by Glenda Millard illus by Martina Heiduczek (ABC Books).

“Everybody knows the multi-awardwinner Glenda Millard but this is Martina’s first book. She was winner of the New England Writers Centre Illustrator’s Prize, which was a ‘creative weekend at Pinerolo’, which was timed to co-incide with a picture book course with Glenda and me. They met here, Glenda showed Martina her text, introduced her editor to Martina’s work and it all fitted, resulting in this simple, poetic, beautiful book about playing in the garden.”

MY POSSUM PLAYS THE DRUMS

by Catherine Meatheringham illus by Max Hamilton (Windy Hollow).

“Max (no relation!) was Westwords/ Pinerolo Illustrator in residence and I enjoyed working with her in the initial stages of this book. It’s a very noisy book and lots of fun. Congratulations Max!”

RIBBIT RABBIT ROBOT

by Victoria MacKinlay illus by Sofya Karmazina (Omnibus/Scholastic).

“Victoria was a participant in a picture book course at Pinerolo. This is her first book. It’s a simple play on words that becomes heaps of fun, especially to read aloud. The illustrations take the action to a whole new level.”

SHADOWS OF OLIVE TREES

by Susanne Gervay.

“Susanne is a great friend of Pinerolo. Her new novel is a coming of age story set in the 1970s. Well worth reading — to remember those times or to relate to these special relationships. How we’ve changed.”

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