Dorchester writer Gail Aldwin collaborates with Austrian illustrator, Fiona Zechmeister on a full colour picture book for children 2–7 years

Gail Aldwin’s debut novel The String Games is a coming-of-age story that was a finalist in the fiction category of the People’s Book Prize and shortlisted in the Dorchester Literary Festival Local Writing Prize 2020. Following this success, Gail Aldwin will again be published by Victorina Press and has worked with illustrator Fiona Zechmeister to produce Pandemonium a full colour children’s picture book for 2–7 year olds.

For a children’s picture book to be successful, the words tell one story while the illustrations tell a parallel more nuanced version. In order to get the balance right, substantial collaboration is required. As Fiona is based in Austria, she and Gail formed a long-distance partnership for the drafting and redrafting processes. It seems they were ahead of Covid-19 in making best use of online communication. With the use of technology, work on the illustrations could be shared and excerpts from the text read aloud and seen on the screen. Indeed, this process continued while Gail volunteered to support South Sudanese families at the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda. Even in a very remote location online collaboration is possible! Following repatriation to her home in Dorchester in March due to Covid-19, Gail has been working with Fiona from her writing room which overlooks the River Frome.

Early five-star reviews on Goodreads for Pandemonium show appreciation of the presentation and theme:

This is an absolutely beautiful picture book – and I love the important message it conveys that you shouldn’t change yourself to try to fit in!

– Tilly, UK

The need to be yourself is reinforced by Odd Sock Day on Monday 16 November and spearheaded by the Anti-Bullying Alliance as part of anti-bullying week 2020. Children are encouraged to wear odd socks to celebrate everything that makes us unique.

Pick up a bargain by pre-ordering a copy of Pandemonium which will be released on 1 December and delivered in time for Christmas. Use the coupon code XMAS2020 to receive 30% off the normal purchase price. The first one hundred orders will also receive a free sticker set.

About Pandemonium

Peta doesn’t look like other pandas in the toy department because of her purple coat. This provides camouflage and enables her to get up to mischief. When an assistant spots Peta this puts an end to her tricks. Peta must learn more about herself … but does this stop Peta’s fun? Of course not!

Praise for Pandemonium

Pandemonium is absolutely delightful! Peta the panda is stuffed full of fun and young ones will adore her. Wendy White, Tir na n-Og Award Winner

The beautiful illustrations are full of movement and excitement, and the joyous story will appeal to young children and their parents. Liz Poulain, children’s author and illustrator

Victorina Bookshop:

Gail Aldwin

Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin loves to collaborate on writing projects with fellow writers in Dorset and elsewhere. Her publications include The String Games, adversaries/comrades and Paisley Shirt. She lives with her family in Dorchester. Find out more about Gail on her blog:



Fiona Zechmeister

Fiona holds a degree in Visual Communication and a Masters in Publishing from the University of Derby. She works as an illustrator creating book covers and children’s books. Pandemonium is the third children’s picture book Fiona has illustrated. The others are I am Adila from Gaza and Songo. Find out more about Fiona on her website:



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