j0384807We’ve had an absolute blast today – and we’re so glad you could make it to help us celebrate the release of Letters to Leonardo.

Please feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments about anything to do with today’s Cyber Launch.

Thanks so much Sue Whiting, Margaret Hamilton, Robyn Opie, Hal, Debbie  and SJ – and all my kind writing friends who have left lovely comments, for making this such a wonderful occasion.

This event has been brought to you by the following:




http://teacherswritinghelper.wordpress.com and


Don’t forget to check out our movie book preview at:


Tomorrow, the blog tour continues and it should be a really fun day because we’re off to visit Persnickety Snark. If you’d like to know how my life paralleled Matt’s, drop in and see us at http://persnicketysnark.blogspot.com

It’s been a huge day – thanks so much for coming. Now it’s time to curl up with a hot cuppa and a good book.

Hope to catch you again in Cyber Space.

Dee and Matt:-)




LETTERS TO LEONARDO – MORE YA REVIEWS – Debbie and SJ have their say


A compelling story – cliffhangers around every corner. Lots of emotion and an incredible storyline. I definitely recommend it to everybody.

SJ – aged 13

A powerful story, makes you think.

Debbie – aged 15



Matt was so excited with what the YA  reviewers had to say about his story, that he asked SJ to stick around and answer some questions.


What did you like best about my story?


It was a good storyline and it kept me hooked – there were a lot of cliffhangers in there and there was a lot of emotion and I could really get a sense of how you felt.


You don’t have to say, ‘me’, but who was your favourite character in the book?


Troy, because he had a good sense of humour and was a good friend to everybody.


Who do you think would like reading my story?


Kids from about 12 or 13 up to adults.


Is my story like any other book you have read?


Not really, it’s nothing like the sort of books I normally read.


Was there anything you didn’t like in the story?


Not really, maybe just some of the descriptions I didn’t like – but it was a really good book.


Would you recommend this book to other people?


Definitely, it’s a great book that anyone would enjoy.

A FREE SNEAK PEEK at “Letters to Leonardo”

Walker Books Australia has been fantastically supportive with our blog tour and Cyber Launch and as a special treat, they’ve allowed us to upload Chapter 1 of Letters to Leonardo, so that you can read it.

Here’s the Sneak Peek first chapter: 


LtoL Chapter 1 - page 7

LtoL Chapter 1 - page 8

LtoL Chapter 1 - page 9

LtoL Chapter 1 - page 10


LtoL Chapter 1 - page 11


LtoL Chapter 1 - page 12


Extract from Letters to Leonardo

by Dee White

Available in bookshops July, 2009

ISBN: 9781921150883

Publisher: Walker Books Australia


Copyright © Dee White, 2009

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Matt and I hope you enjoyed Chapter 1. If you’d like to keep reading, you can buy the book at any good bookstore or online at:






Happy reading!

Dee and Matt:-)



Thanks so much for those kind words, Sue. I have just loved working with you.

Finally, the big day is here – Letters to Leonardo is being released into both the real world and the cyber world TODAY, July 1st 2009 – RIGHT NOW!

So it’s with great pleasure that I introduce you to Margaret Hamilton, who has made this day even more special by agreeing to Cyber Launch my book, Letters to Leonardo.

I was thrilled when Margaret agreed to launch my book because she has played such an important role in setting it on the road to publication. Margaret was the expert assigned to assess my manuscript at the 2008 SCBWI conference in Sydney. She read my manuscript and told me it was good enough to be published. She gave me the confidence to believe in my work, take the risk, and dare to show it to the publishing world.

Thanks Margaret:-)

Margaret Hamilton pic

Being invited to do a ‘cyber launch’ of a book brings me kicking and screaming into the 21st Century! I’ve never been known to knock back a challenge, so here I am looking another one in the face.

I’ve met Dee White only once – at the SCBWI conference in Sydney. I had been asked to do a program of half-hour publishing consultations and was allotted a very pleasant corner on the rooftop of the Hughenden, sitting in the sun on some comfortable outdoor furniture. Thank goodness it was warm and sunny and not minus four degrees as it is in Blackheath today as I write this!

 Half an hour is not long to talk to an author about their work but I quickly became intrigued by Dee’s story. From the snippets that I read I was able to see that she can write – convincingly, smoothly, with feeling. I was a little concerned that her story of a teenage boy with serious issues to deal with – so serious that he couldn’t face them head on, he had to write to a dead artist to ease the burden – might be bleak, sad and lacking a hopeful resolution. Books about teenagers have often been too serious, too bleak and have been criticised for their ‘dirty realism’ and lack of direction. Throughout my publishing career I resolved never to publish a book that did not offer the characters a way out of their predicament, however serious it was. Everybody must find someone to talk to.

So I asked Dee to tell me the rest of the story and I listened intently to her passionate retelling. By the time she had finished I knew that here was an authentic character, a believable teenage boy who would be readily recognisable to young readers. I identified with him and his family, just from Dee’s short retelling, so I knew instinctively that here was a serious publishing possibility. Matt’s story is told with an authentic voice, a real insight into his world and the issues he is fighting to come to terms with. It doesn’t shy away from the seriousness of his situation, neither does it sugar coat them. It’s realistic, gritty and life affirming. So I urged her to send it to publishers (suggesting a shortlist of some I knew).

The rest is now history, because Walker Books Australia snapped up the book and I received an excited email from Dee telling me that it was going to be published. And here it is. Nothing is so satisfying to an author (or indeed a publisher, as I have never tired of it) than opening a parcel and finding finished copies of a book you’ve sweated over, lost sleep over, had panic attacks about. You hug it, turn it over and look at the back, at the front again, smell it, flip through the pages and hug it again!

But the work is not yet finished. The promotion and selling of a new author’s book is hard work. I feel confident that Letters to Leonardo will find many readers, will be well reviewed and will lead to other books from Dee White. As a first book, this is an impressive debut and she should be very proud and encouraged to write more.

So I am excited and honoured to be asked to launch Letters to Leonardo (cyber or not!). As she begins her journey as a published writer on the sea of readers, I wish Dee smooth sailing and many more successes to come.

Margaret Hamilton AM

Thanks so much Margaret for your very kind words and for findng time in your hectic schedule to launch my book. Even though we’ve only met once, I was wondering if you were in my lounge room when I opened the parcel with my book inside – when I hugged it, turned it over and look ed at the back, at the front again, smelled it, flipped through the pages and hugged it again

After spending more than ten years writing “Letters to Leonardo”, it’s hard to believe that today it goes on bookshelves in stores all over the country – today my book is not just piles of paper stuck away in a filing cabinet drawer – it is a real book available for readers to buy and enjoy.

So as we continue the Cyber Launch, it’s time to fill up your glass with cyber bubbles and cross to Robyn Opie’s blog http://robynopie.blogspot.com where you’ll find out where the ideas and characters for Letters to Leonardo came from – and obstacles on the road to publication.

See you there at 10.15 (oz time)  – oops, that’s now! Gotta fly. Catch up with you at Robyn’s place.



j0384809Right from the start, every single person at Walker Books Australia (our publishers) has been fantastic – friendly, helpful, enthusiastic – so great to work with.

But there’s one person who we worked really closely with over the last twelve months – Senior Editor – and all round patient, kind and wonderful person, Sue Whiting.

Sue helped Matt to discover his voice – and Dee find out that she used some words far too many times – especially the word, ‘weird’ – weird huh?

We are so delighted to have Sue here today to talk about Letters to Leonardo and the journey we have all taken together.

And on this special occasion, Sue has swapped her editor’s hat for a party hat. Over to you, Sue.


I first heard of Letters to Leonardo by chance. I was sitting opposite Dee at the SCBWI conference dinner at the Hughenden Hotel in Sydney. She was excitedly talking to the person beside her about the manuscript. The title was intriguing. Dee’s enthusiasm was palpable. Curious to know more, I asked Dee to tell me about it. I was so fascinated by the concept behind the manuscript, that before we even received our entrées, I had invited her to submit it to Walker Books. And when a number of weeks later, I finally sat down to read it, I was not disappointed. Far from it.

Congratulations, Dee. Letters to Leonardo is a wonderful debut YA novel and you should be enormously proud of yourself. You have worked so hard, not only in the last twelve months or so as you slogged through the various rounds of edits, but over the many long years prior that you toiled over and persisted with the manuscript. Your efforts have certainly paid off.

Letters to Leonardo is a unique tale, beautifully written. It’s poignant. It’s compelling. It packs a powerful punch. It will take readers on an emotive journey and it is impossible not to be moved by the experience.

I wish you and Letters to Leonardo every success, Dee.

Sue Whiting

Senior Editor

Walker Books Australia


WELCOME TO OUR CYBER LAUNCH – Letters to Leonardo is about to spread its wings

letterstoleonardolrgSeeing as today is such an important occasion – Cyber Launch day – and the day that Letters to Leonardo is released, I thought I’d do something really fancy and voice record my introduction.

But of course technology doesn’t always co-operate – and the sound was ‘fuzzy’ to say the least – we even had clinking glasses SFX – but they sounded pretty bad too – sort of like someone running over a stack of empty bottles – not pleasant.

So it’s back to the tried and true – words on a page – which really, being a writer, I’m more comfortable with anyway.


I want to start by saying how fantastic it is to have you at my launch – we’re in for a really big day.


Please feel free to leave comments. I’m going to be online all day (ISP providers permitting) to answer your questions and respond to your comments, so please don’t be shy about leaving me a message.

Also, if you are an author, illustrator, online bookstore or reviewer and would like to be included on my blogroll, please leave your URL.


We kick off at 10.00am with a word from my wonderful Editor, Sue Whiting, who is going to talk about how the whole process of publishing Letters to Leonardo got started.

It’s an honour to have Margaret Hamilton here today and she is going to be Cyber Launching the book at 10.15am, so charge your glasses and get those cyber bubbles happening.

Also planned are crosses to Robyn Opie’s blog (that’s a blog tour stop) http://robynopie.blogspot.com and to http://teacherswritinghelper.wordpress.com for classroom activities and tasks. Young writers can get tips at http://tips4youngwriters.wordpress.comand there will be reviews by YA readers.

To celebrate the release of Letters to Leonardo, Walker Books has kindly allowed me to download a 1st chapter Sneak Peek and that will be available at 10.30am.

There’s a Letters to Leonardo word search, a movie book preview – and so much more.

100_0804The elusive Matt Hudson will even be appearing in public to interview me about how I used Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings to tell Matt’s story.

So, thanks for coming, hope you enjoy the day – and don’t forget to leave your comments.

Dee and Matt:-)

LETTERS TO LEONARDO – YA REVIEW – 14 yo Hal gives his opinion

j0435233Letters to Leonardo is about 15 year-old Matt Hudson’s search for his mother, and what happens when he finds her.


I could feel what Matt was going through and wanted to try and help him.

Matt is under pressure and he lets it all out in letters that he writes to Leonardo da Vinci.

To start with, he’s really mad at his dad for keeping the truth from him but eventually, they sort it out.

I really liked Matt’s best friend, Troy. Like Leonardo, Troy gives Matt someone to talk to and help him sort stuff out.

Once I’d started, I couldn’t stop reading Letters to Leonardo. If you like books like THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, then this is the sort of book you will like.


Hal 14