Author: Katrina Roe


These fantastic awards recognise books which represent difference and disability in positive ways. I was very excited to place third with Lily’s Balloon in the 2024 Awards. Thanks Forevability for this wonderful recognition!


Riverina children’s author, Katrina Roe, is launching her new wartime audiobook in Wagga Wagga on Remembrance Day.

Aimed at kids aged 9-12, When I was Twelve, is the true story of an entire childhood lived under the shadow of war. It’s about trying to be brave while growing up without your Dad.

Born in 1933, Katrina’s father, Nick Hutchins, was just six years old when his own father went off to war.

When I was six my father took me down to the bottom of the garden to have a man- to-man talk.

Now that there’s a war on, Daddy has to fight in France. You’re the man of the house now, Nicky,’ he said. ‘I need you to take care of your mother and your sister.’

When I Was Twelve tells the true story of Nick’s wartime childhood in the UK, as he shares his memories with his young grandchildren.

‘When I was young my father never talked much about his wartime childhood,’ Katrina explains. ‘Like many of his generation, they just ‘got on with it’. It was only as he got older that he reflected on the responsibility that came with trying to be the man of the house at age 6.’

‘It wasn’t until I had my own children that I realised what a huge sacrifice the war generations made. My Dad grew up without his father for all those years. They would put his photo in his place at the dinner table and kiss his photo goodnight at bedtime. When his father eventually came home, six year later, he was so thin my Dad didn’t recognise him. He said that’s not my father. My father is that man in the photo.’

Left behind during the evacuation of Dunkirk, Lt. Col. CDM Hutchins, was captured in 1940, marched across Europe on starvation rations and held captive in various German prisoner-of-war camps for five long years.

When I Was Twelve includes gripping first-hand extracts from his POW Diary. 

Hungry as I was I used to remove the meat out of my soup after seeing a gangrenous horses head being used for making it. One man had an eye in his soup and ate it. Ugh!

‘I never met my grandfather,’ Katrina says. ‘But when I visited my Aunty in the UK I read his POW diary and heard his voice for the first time. It was so clear to me that he wanted to share his story, he wanted it to be remembered. That’s why I included his voice in the book as well.’

When I was Twelve features the voices of four generations from one family: the diary of Katrina’s grandfather, first-hand narration by her father, writing and narration by Katrina, and Katrina’s youngest daughter Bronte also plays a small part on the recording.

‘I hope that kids are fascinated not just by the gory details, but also by the emotional heart of the story. It’s so important to remember that tough times do come to an end,’ Katrina says.

2019 Events

Would you like to book me for a Book Week visit, author story time, special event speaker, writing workshop or a preschool visit?  I am now taking bookings.  Please get in touch via the Contact page on this website.

‘My kids love Gemma Gets the Jitters… and so do I. It teaches children it’s ok to be afraid, and highlights what courage looks like.’

Dr Justin Coulson, Parenting expert & Author of 9 Ways to a Resilient Child

‘Katrina Roe wowed audiences at the Snowy Mountains Readers & Writers festival. Her writing journey was inspirational to kids and adults alike.’

Jack Heath, Children’s and YA Author

Our students loved meeting Katrina Roe and enjoyed learning about her writing and storytelling.  The children especially loved her book Lily’s Balloon as it had the beautiful message that your own loss could be someone else’s gain.  There will be a little waitlist for her books as we have already had quite a number of students asking to borrow her books from the Library!’

Maren de Rijk, Junior School Librarian, Arden Anglican School

‘Katrina’s ability to captivate and engage a class of preschoolers for over an hour is amazing.’

Helen Besestri, Snowy Moutains Readers & Writers Festival.

‘Our students thoroughly enjoyed Katrina’s presentation and even our youngest students were engaged the whole time.  Katrina involved the girls by asking them questions and developed their understanding of issues presented in her books.’

Gwyn Bromhead, Junior School – Teacher Librarian, Tara Anglican School for Girls

You were amazing!  The students were engaged and captivated by your fabulous stories. All the teachers present agreed it was a fabulous morning! Thank you and come again.’

Emma Cutmore, Kindergarten Teacher, Loquat Valley Anglican School
Sat Feb 210 am – 1pmPrepare ELCPrepare ELC Open Day
Sat Mar 239am – 1pmBeecroft Uniting ChurchState Election Market Day
Sat Mar 302pmSMBCSydney Children’s Omega Writer’s Gathering
Sat Jun 159am-1pmNewington MarketplacePop-up Markets
Wed Aug 2110amSt Stephen’s Preschool, NormanhurstBook Week Author visit
Wed Aug 211pm-3pmChrist Church Preschool, GladesvilleBook Week Author visit
Thu Aug 2210amCreative Learning PreschoolBook Week Author visit
Thu Aug 221pm-3pmChrist Church Preschool, GladesvilleBook Week Author visit
Fri Aug 23All daySouthern Highlands Christian SchoolBook Week Guest Author
Wed Sept 118.30amArden Anglican SchoolGuest author
Sat Sept 149am – 1pmBeecroft Uniting ChurchSpring Market Day
Sat Sept 143pm – 8pmEastwood Heights Public SchoolFireworks Fundraiser
Sept 28-29All dayBrisbaneWombat Books Professional Development Conference
Oct 12-13All dayEdmund Rice Retreat and Conference Centre, MulgoaOmega Writer’s Conference& Caleb Awards
Nov 1610amMelrose Park Public SchoolMelrose Park PS Market Day & Fete
Nov 275.30pmThe Governor Hotel,  NorthRydeRyde District Mums Twilight Market
Dec 156pmThornleighThornleigh Carols & Markets

First reviews of Lily’s Balloon

It’s always a nerve wracking wait after you release a new book. What will the reviews be like? My worst fear is not getting bad reviews, but getting no reviews at all.  With so many books being released every month, it’s hard to get your book noticed at all.  

It’s been a few months since Lily’s Balloon was officially released and finally some reviews have been emerging.  

  1. My favourite was this one, on Episode Nineteen of the kids book podcast, One More Page

Nat Amoore’s review of Lily’s Balloon filled my heart with joy.  Here are just some of the lovely things she said about my book. 

Lily’s Balloon would be my idea of the perfect bedtime story. It’s gentle and calming and has this melodic feel to it. The illustrations are poignant, but subtle with a light touch. It almost feels like a dream as you read through it and the way it ends I feel like the kid could go to sleep dreaming of where the balloon might go next.”

“I just want to hug every character in this book!”  

“I really enjoyed this book because it’s concise and gentle and I can really imagine parents being happy to read this one over and over to their kids at bedtime. It feels like a snuggle up with your kid and doona kinda book.”

To listen to the full review and the rest of the One More Page Podcast, follow the link below.

2. Author and reviewer, Dimity Powell included Lily’s Balloon in a selection of Stories for the Soul: Picture Books that Tug at the Heart Strings on the Boomerang Books Blog.

“This is a touching story of hope, disappointment, and learning how to let go, exquisitely illustrated by Helene Magisson. Magisson’s elegant drawings pulse with colour and form. Each page is a landscape of solid textures, interesting shapes and gentle movement.  Mellow hues and generous white space allow the eyes to wander and discover more detail, like tiny ants crawling along a bending reed.

 Lily’s Balloon is a lovely marriage of imagery and words that demonstrates how lives and situations may be inextricably connected and suggests to children that they are not alone when it comes to facing life’s many disappointments.”

You can read the full review on the Boomerang Books blog.

3. The Children’s Book Council publication Reading Time was one of the first to review Lily’s Balloon.

“We share in a wave of Lily’s emotions, from excitement, disappointment, happiness and loss.  Amongst it all, the reader delicately experiences anticipation and wonder on a balloon’s journey of interconnectedness woven throughout the story.

The illustrations so beautifully and gently invite readers to connect beyond the diverse and unique characters; encompassing other living creatures and nature’s world around us. It’s a powerful message for children and adults alike, with subtle yet strong illustrations that Helene Magisson has so perfectly presented.”

Read Sonia Bestulic’s full review here.

4. Lucinda Gifford from Children’s Literature website Buzz Words Books had this to say about Lily’s Balloon.

“This is a gentle, philosophical book which guides us towards looking beyond ourselves to see the bigger picture. Lily loses her balloon, but her spirits soar as she watches it drift out towards the clouds, ‘dancing on the wind’.  The balloon’s journey raises the spirits of two other children, each unaware of the balloon’s overall ‘story’, of who it will encounter and what its future will be.

This is a perfect book for talking about how we are all connected, the deeper meaning of objects, and how our actions, and our journey, affect others.”

Here’s the link to the Buzz Words review.  

It lifts my heart to read and hear how warmly Lily’s Balloon is being received by readers big and small.

2018 Events

 Thu March 1 06.30pm NSW Writers’ CentreWriters’ Group Open Night, Keynote speaker
 Thu April 1203.30pmExplore & Develop ArtarmonAuthor visit
Thu April 1911.15 amChatswood LibraryPreschool Storytime
Sat June 30All dayNSW Writers’ CentreKids & YA festival
 Fri Aug 107amRyde Civic CentreCity of Ryde Prayer Breakfast
Sat Aug 11 2pmMad Hatters Bookshop, Manly, BrisbaneLily’s Balloon Launch
 Tue Aug 21 9amOrange Public SchoolBook Week Author visit
 Wed Aug 22 10.30 am Orange Christian SchoolBook Week Author visit
Wed Aug 221pmMolong Public SchoolBook Week Author Visit
Thu Aug 239amCanowindra Public SchoolFestival of Reading
Thu Aug 235.30pmOrange City LibraryAdults Event:  In Conversation with Melanie Pearce
Fri Aug 2409.10Catherine Mcauley Catholic SchoolBook Week Author Visit
Sat Sep 13pmSydney launch
Sat Nov 109am-1pmBeecroft Uniting ChurchMarket Day
Sat Dec 15pmRoseville Lawn Tennis ClubChristmas Market
Tue Dec 45.30pmGovernor HotelRyde District Mums Twilight Christmas Market
Sun Dec 16Headen Park, Sinclair Ave, ThornleighThornleigh Community Carols and Night Market

2017 Events

Date Time Location Event
 Sun March 12  12 pm  Jindabyne  Snowy Mountains Readers Writers Children’s Festival
 Mon Aug 21  1030  Trinity Early Learning Centre Book Week author visit
 Tue Aug 22  0930  St Lucy’s at St Joseph’s, Narrabeen Book Week author visit
 Tue Aug 22  1200  Pacific Hills Christian School, Dural Book Week author visit
 Wed Aug 23 0845  Barker College Prep, Hornsby Book Week author visit
 Thu Aug 24  900

Wycliffe Christian School,


Book Week author visit
 Fri Aug 25 The Anglican School, Googong Book Week author visit
 Fri Aug 25 Arawang Primary School, Waramanga, ACT Book Week author visit
Sat Sept 9 3pm Boronia Park Uniting church Hall


Gemma gets the Jitters!

Fri Dec 1 4pm St John’s Gordon Twilight Christmas Market
Sat Dec 9 7pm Blacktown Carols in the Park Carols MC with Duncan from Hope breakfast
Sat Dec 16 9am Beecroft Uniting Church Christmas Market

2016 Events

Date Time Location Event
Fri Sept 16 10.30AM Parramatta Library Author story time
Thur Sept 8 9 AM Cowan Public School Cowan/Brooklyn Children’s Writers’ Festival
Fri Aug 26 10 AM Loquat Valley Anglican School BOOK WEEK Author visit
Tue Aug 23 1 PM Tara ELC and Junior School BOOK WEEK Author visit
Mon Aug 22 10 am St Lucy’s School, Wahroonga BOOK WEEK Author Visit
Tue Aug 16 10.30AM Christ Church Gladesville Preschool Author visit
Fri July 8 9 AM Queenstown Public School, NZ Author visit
Tue Jun 21 10AM Recharge for Mothers of Preschoolers, Epping Church of Christ Guest speaker
Tue Jun 14 10 AM Macquarie Chapel, Playtime Author story time
Thur Jun 9 10 AM Macquarie Chapel, Playtime Guest speaker
Fri May 27 10 AM Livvi’s Place, Ryde Author story time
Fri May 20 – Sat May 21  The Menzies, Sydney CBCA National Conference, Delegate
Mon May 16 10 AM Livvi’s Place, Five Dock Author story time
Tue May 3 10AM Explore & Develop, North Ryde Author visit
Tue Apr 5 10AM Explore & Develop, Macquarie Park Author visit
Fri Apr 1 11AM Griffith Library Storytime
Thu Mar 31 10AM Coleambally Preschool Author visit
Wed Mar 30 9.30AM Darlington Point Public School Author visit and library opening
Tue Mar 29 Yenda Public School Author visit
Sun Mar 6 7.45 am Reef Restaurant, The Haven, Terrigal Soroptimist International, Central Coast Branch,IWD Breakfast, Guest speaker
Sat Jan 23 11 am Balmain Public Library Author Storytime
Sat Jan 16 11 am Leichhardt Public Library Author Storytime

‘Same’ in the media

It’s been a busy time promoting Same in the media all across the country.  In the past few weeks I’ve talked to 96five in Brissy, chatted with Outback Radio 2WEB, and appeared on ABC News 24 Weekend Breakfast with Matt and Miriam.  It was my first time ever on national television so I was nervous for about 2 weeks before!  This probably seemed a little ridiculous to my hubby, who used to read the news on Sky every day!  I didn’t stuff up too badly, except the moment I said ‘maked’ instead of ‘made’.  What was I thinking?  I blame hanging out with 3 year old, who regularly says things like ‘I eated all my dinner’ and ‘I goed to the shops’.  Since I said the word ‘maked’ on national television, I’ve discovered that I often used her 3 year old speech patterns, and have found myself eating ‘tussert’, wearing ‘tujamas’ and saying something is ‘tusgusting’!

Oct 7 was World Cerebral Palsy Day and I was excited to have a blog post on Huffington Post.  This got a great response with a lot of traffic on the day.  I went over to visit my brother Charlie at the end of the week and read the post aloud to him.  I was a bit worried about what he’d think, but he really teared up at the end and I knew that he was proud of it.

For the next few weeks I’m visiting some schools and preschools with Same.  If you would like me to visit your school or preschool, please get in touch through the contact page of this website.