About the Author
Tina Cardillo Horace and the Hugging Trees Banner

Growing up in Brisbane, in the inner-city suburb of West End, I spent many hours walking along the riverbanks exploring or sitting in the shade of magnificent 100-year-old pine trees. Even as a child, in time of stress or anxiety I would instinctively sit on the grass or up against a tree to make myself feel better. In retrospect, I now know I was grounding myself and my need to hug a tree a calming energy exchange provided lovingly by Mother Nature. My school-age years where a struggle as I constantly tried to fit into academic and social models—Being a chubby, Italian kid did not help.


As long as I can remember, I have had this running commentary in my head full of wonderful stories, adventures, drama and aliens, to name but a few. In primary school, I thought this was “normal” but as I got older, it became evident that this was not the case.  While my peers held their pens poised diligently in accounting class, my pen was on the floor, my face out the window sucking in the cool, spicy air that I imagined had touched the very highest tips of the Himalayas. 

Life happened, and I did eventually learn to keep my feet grounded on planet earth but not all of the time, what’s the fun in that? A large majority of my stories were now confined to my free time, by that I mean, meal breaks at work, cooking, cleaning, driving and any other chores that I could multi-task. Needless to say, I burnt a lot of dinners, the house was never perfect and the kids never had meticulously ascetic book covers. As for the car, well let’s just say I kept the local mobile scratch and dent company in business for decades. Many of those stories that I spent days or even weeks on refining are now lost forever in what I like call affectionately, "The Big Black Hole". However, I am confident they will pop out of the abyss one day!

The good news is that for the last eight years I have had time to actually document some of that creative stuff that endlessly looped through my grey matter. I started writing poems which I found to be very cathartic. It was so fulfilling to see my thoughts on paper after all those years of suspended animation. At last, they had a resting place, and I had finally given them validation and a voice.

In 2014 I had 2 poems published in the Writers Anthology Group yearly book Alpha and Omega.  This gave me the confidence to join the Writers Rendezvous, a writers group in Dayboro, where I have had the pleasure of meeting many kindred spirits, learning so much and expanding my craft. Now, in 2020, I am about to publish my first children’s book Horace and the Hugging Trees.

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a NEW DREAM" 

C.S. Lewis

I am 61 years of age, a late bloomer you might say, but my point is that it is never too late to unleash the voice within. 


Take the first step and the rest will follow effortlessly.  

Dare to be daring, what do you have to lose? 

We all have a story to tell—you just might not realise it yet. 


Once you take the leap, you will be on the most rewarding, exhilarating adventure of your life. It can lead you anywhere, even to the highest tips of the Himalayas! (Amazingly I travelled to the base camp of Mt Everest in May 2018). You just have to be courageous and be open to the endless possibilities.

Horace and the Hugging Trees

In a grey and dirty city.

There was a young  owl who was always dreaming,

of a clean, green planet with a golden light.

The trouble was, he was so little.

Sometimes he felt quite invisible.


Horace and the Hugging Trees’ journey began three years ago. I originally envisaged the book to be a warm-hearted, magical adventure centred on a very little owl named Horace who had a very big dream. Underpinning the plot was an environmental message to be presented in a fun way through the narrative and captivating illustrations.

However, life happened, and I travelled to India and Nepal where I witnessed and experienced first hand the devastating effects of pollution on the environment and the population. Upon my return, I was hospitalised on two separate occasions due to water contamination and air pollution. These events became the catalyst for me rewriting the story with a more powerful message. I also envisaged it to be used by parents and educators as a tool for teaching and empowering young children about caring for the environment. My dearest wish is that it will help introduce the hard conversation about environmental issues and generate discussion on practical solutions while offering hope for the future. 

Horace and the Hugging Trees is the first book in a two part series. Living in the sunless, polluted No Sun City where everyone has forgotten how to have fun, is Horace, a tiny owl with big dreams. Travelling in his father’s dream machine, he sets out on a mission to find a  world where he can play all day and dream happy thoughts at night. Landing on a healthy planet so vastly different to his own, he is amazed by what he sees. After some unexpected twists and turns, Horace finally fulfils his dream but also discovers what is really important to him. Featuring many native Australian animals, this story will delight young children and open their eyes to the importance of looking after their environment.

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 2019 Tina Cardillo - Proudly developed by Joshua Clifton at Ocean Reeve Publishing