Hazels Edwards‘ new picture book, Plato the Platypus Plumber (Part-time) is the story of a platypus who is also a part time plumber. Plato is the imaginary friend of a young boy called Zanzibar who has all sorts of things that need fixing around his home.
On call, Plato fixes watery problems like leaking taps, but he also fixes grumpy people. From his tool kit, he uses smile spray, a feather or a joke. The book is beautifully illustrated by John Petropoulos.
Hazel says her original idea was to create a story with two things that don’t usually go together. The story was originally an idea for a TV series about Zanzibar and his adventures.
Plato the Platypus Plumber (Part-time) was launched recently at Pasir Ridge International School in Indonesia. Hazel has agreed to share the experience with us.
How did the school prepare for the launch?
Meg Baxter, the Early Childhood teacher and her enthusiastic staff had organised a special ‘mud’ cake iced with a replica of the cover as well as ‘muddy’ chocolate milk. SFX of water noises. Charts of platypus facts, and even an story house, surrounded by recycled branches (in the spirit of the story) with an author chair for the ‘first’ reading. To the side was a ‘creek’ with platypus shapes.
The children had all created their own plumber tool kits in mini cases. Teachers had prepared the children well.
What else was unique about the preparations?
There were platypus prints leading into the room and up to the pile of Plato the Platypus Plumber (part-time) books.
Can you tell us about the author signing?
International school children have names from many cultures. And that can be a challenge when you are autographing. A first edition book should be dated as well as signed by the author and illustrator, (but he was back in Melbourne)
So Indonesian teachers helped with typed slips of children’s names for autographing. Many are KTC s Kids of the Third Culture, where parents may be nationals of different countries and the child born or schooled in a third. But stories cross all cultures.
Sounds like the teachers were very resourceful, Hazel. And in your book, Plato helps Zanzibar to develop these same kind of problem-solving abilities. Why do you think it’s important for children to have these skills?
Being willing to try new ways of solving problems, even if you get it wrong occasionally, is the only way we learn. It’s okay to do things differently.
What was your favourite part of the launch?
For me the special pleasure was that once I’d talked about how a book was also created by the reader from the clues given by the illustrator and the author, the children sprawled on the rug and all read the book for themselves.
‘Mine is the first Plato book signed in the whole world,’ said one little boy as he sat down to read.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience with us, Hazel.
Find out more about Plato the fixer and eco-warrior at