I know from watching my own kids growing up that there are definitely books for different occasions.

There are books full of fun and action to start the day and there are books that are more mellow, that leave small readers feeling warm and snuggly and ready for sleep – the perfect bedtime stories.

These are the books that gently lead them into the land of nod – books like Samuel’s Kisses and the runaway Hug. Both are tender funny stories for young readers about family and being loved.

Samuel’s Kisses

Written by Karen Collum and illustrated by Serena Geddes

Published by New Frontier publishing

Samuel loves going shopping but he notices that the people around him don’t share his happiness and sense of fun.

He decides to brighten up their lives by blowing them kisses.

This is a beautiful book depicting how a small child can find a simple solution to adult grumpiness.

There is movement and a gentle rhythm in this story as the kisses find their way around all sorts of obstacles to reach their mark.

Serena Geddes expressive and colourful illustrations show the affection and happiness that surrounds little Samuel and how he makes such a positive difference to the world around him.

This uplifting story is full of light-hearted fun but has a strong message and a satisfying ending for the reader.

the Runaway Hug

Written by Nick Bland and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Published by Scholastic

This book is a collaboration between two of Australia’s favourite picture book creators, Nick Bland and Freya Blackwood.

‘Mummy’, said Lucy. ‘Can I have a hug before I go to bed? I promise I’ll give it back.’

As Lucy discovers, a hug can go a very long way. It can be shared with Mummy and Daddy, it can be shared with the twins, it can even be shared with Annie the dog. The secret to sharing a hug is for it to be given back.

This hug seems to go especially far and along the way it becomes softer, sleepier, bigger and even peanut-buttery.

But when the hug runs away, Lucy doesn’t know what to do. How will she keep her promise to Mummy?

the Runaway Hug is a gentle, charming story with a perfect ending for bedtime reading.

Freya Blackwood’s beautiful illustrations are full of action and the sort of telling detail that young readers love.

Samuel’s Kisses and the runaway Hug will leave readers feeling snug, safe and ready for sleep.


I was immediately drawn to Samuel’s Kisses and it wasn’t just because I have a son called Sam.

The title and the vibrant cover illustration by Serena Geddes told me that this was going to be a happy book – something that celebrated life and captured a child’s optimism.

When I opened the cover, I wasn’t disappointed. Karen Collum’s book, Samuel’s Kisses is about a little boy who contributes one small thing to the world that makes a big impact people’s lives.

Samuel is a small boy who blows kisses to everyone he meets. His genuine, heartfelt kisses have the ability to transform people who have sadness, worry and pain.

This book gives such a positive message and not just to kids. It reflects that everyone can make a difference to the world just by sharing something as simple as a smile or in Samuel’s case, a kiss.

Samuel’s Kisses has been written for preschoolers but there are messages there that could be understood and appreciated by much older children.

Little Samuel has the power to transform his world and make readers believe that anything is possible.  I loved the ending of this book which also reflects how as parents we pass our values and beliefs on to our children.

Young readers will enjoy following the path of each kiss as it twirls and swirls up and over, under and around objects until it reaches its target with a SPLAT!

Karen Collum has used interesting, descriptive language to engage the reader and assist with vocabulary development.

The lively and upbeat mood of the book is beautifully captured by the full colour illustrations by Serena Geddes

Author Karen Collum is a strong believer in teaching children to be optimistic and it shines through in her book.

Published by New Frontier, Samuel’s Kisses comes in a sturdy hard cover format that is the perfect size for small hands to flick through.

Parents, teachers, librarians and children will enjoy this charming story full of humour, colour and hope.


Karen Collum is mother to three beautiful boys, with a baby girl joining the family later this month. She’s passionate about developing optimism in children and empowering them to make a difference in the world.

Karen is visiting Kids’ Book Capers on her blog tour to celebrate the release of her new picture book, Samuel’s Kisses based on real life experiences with her own son, Sam.

Karen, can you tell us what Samuel’s Kisses is about and what age group it’s for?

Samuel’s Kisses is aimed at the pre-school age group (ages 2-5) and captures the beauty and power of a simple act of kindness. When a toddler blows kisses to people he meets, they are transformed in the very best way possible.

What  inspired the story of Samuel’s Kisses?

When my eldest son was two, he had the most delightful habit of blowing kisses to complete strangers while I did the shopping. It always struck me how powerful those kisses were. People who had previously been frowning and cranky would suddenly begin to smile and interact with him. I thought it would make a great story one day…and it did!

You have a son called Samuel (Sam). Can you tell us how you incorporated his story into your book?

Sam is very much the inspiration for the book. Although unlike Samuel in the book, he never actually had anyone juggle or dance because of the kisses he blew, he did have people play peek-a-boo with him or blow him a kiss in return.

How does Sam feel about being involved in the creation of your book?

He is very excited. For a long time he’d ask me to read the text to him but
then ask me when it was going to become a ‘real’ book with pictures.

When I got the final version of the book to look over, I sat down on the couch with
him and read it to him properly for the first time. He was so overjoyed that
it finally had pictures! I’m holding a book launch at his Kinder and he can’t wait for me to read his book to his friends. I think he’s looking forward to being the star of the show for a few minutes.

Apart from the story, does he have any other involvement in the book?

The beautiful little blonde boy in the story is based on my Sam. I was
fortunate enough to be able to send a photo of him when he was two to the
illustrator, Serena Geddes, and she kindly used that as a starting point for
the illustrations.

Do you have any tips for other writers wanting to incorporate real
life into works of fiction?

Anyone who is a parent experiences the joy of their children doing cute things. I think the trick is to work out which of those things hold universal appeal for many people and which ones are unique to your family. Not every cute thing my kids have done would make a good book, but sometimes I have to write the story before I come to that realisation.

Can you tell us how old Sam was when you started writing this story and how old he is now?

I first wrote the story in 2008 when Sam had just turned 2. He’s now 5 1/2
(that half is very important) and is so very grown up. I’m glad I’ve been able to capture him as a toddler in the book.

Have you written or do you have plans to write any books about other family members?

I’d love to write a book for each of my kids and have got a few ideas that are in various stages of development. I have identical twins who are 2 1/2 years old and I’m working on a concept for a picture book at the moment that revolves around the joys and trials of being an identical twin.

I’m also about to have a baby girl and I’d love to write a book for her one day too,
but I think I’ll have to get to know her a little better first. I want the books to reflect the character and nature of my children. I consider it areal privilege to be able to say to Sam, “I wrote this book about you and for you” and I hope I get to do the same with my other kids.

I also have written a picture book that I’m passionate about that deals with
open-heart surgery. Sam had open-heart surgery last year to correct a
congenital heart defect and I’d love to help other children in his situation
to understand what is going to happen to them and why. I think my family
might just be my greatest source of inspiration.

Karen is visiting these great blogs on her tour to talk more about Samuel’s Kisses.

Blog tour dates:
Dec 1: Kathryn Apel
Dec 2: Kids’ Book Capers
Dec 3: Sheryl Gwyther
Dec 4: Serena Geddes
Dec 5: Rebecca Newman
Dec 6: Susan Stephenson
Dec 7: Katrina Germein

To read more about Karen’s work visit her website at