Afloat in Venice

I was thrilled when I was given a camera for my birthday, because I could use it on my very first adventure overseas, and take photos to make my first book, Afloat in Venice.

It was scary travelling so far away from home, but I met a wonderful friend, Clarabella, who showed me a magical floating city that seemed to grow straight out of the sea.

It was great seeing so many new and amazing things to take photos of but something very unexpected happened along the way. I discovered something more precious than sight-seeing! You will have to read the book to learn what I discovered 🙂

How to purchase a copy

If you can’t find Afloat in Venice in your local bookstore (sometimes they run out) then please buy one directly through my publisher’s website, One Tentacle Publishing.


Mum says it’s important for books to have a theme, she told me that a theme is a main idea or underlying story. I thought travel, holidays and adventure were great themes for my first book,  but I discovered some more important ones along the way;  loss, perseverance and the power of friendship.


By watching my dad (composer extraordinaire – Matt Ottley) I’ve learnt that music can bring stories and pictures to life in ways you might not have expected.

The music that he wrote for my story in Venice makes me smile, feel like dancing and at times makes me shed a tear.

You can download the music for free from Dad’s website.


The production of the CD has been supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

NSW government logo



If you would like to know more about the creative process behind making this book, from the creation of the images, through to the music and the knitting, please download the free resource notes. There’s also lots of interesting activities for teacher’s to do with students.


Below are links to some reviews by book bloggers of Afloat in Venice. Thanks to these wonderful readers/writers for taking the time to share their thoughts on the book with the world.

The Book Tree – Kerry Gittins

“Afloat in Venice is a charming story of adventure and friendship by Australian artist and author Tina Wilson. Tina uses her own beautiful photographic images of this iconic city to accompany the playful text. The hand knitted toy characters, made by Tina’s mum Joan Wilson, are immediately loveable and most certainly add to the appeal of this heart warming story.”

“This is a must have story for preschool and early primary school library collections, and one for your own collection too if you have young ones at home.  It is the first in a series of adventures for Monkey, and I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next!” Excerpts from review by Kerry Gittins.

The Bottom Shelf – Barbara Braxton

This is going to be a stand-out read-aloud and read-alone in your collection because it is that wonderful combination of story and illustrations with characters and situations that its audience will relate to and all the added extras (sic. Matt Ottley’s Music and Joan Wilson’s knitting) will make Monkey and his friends their friends too.”

“Enriching the experience enormously, partner/composer/illustrator Matt Ottley (winner of the 2021 CBCA Picture Book of the Year) has composed a soundtrack to accompany the book so that all its nuances are experienced in full sensory mode. There are two tracks – one to accompany the child holding the book and listening to it being read to them;  the other a more extended version to take the whole experience into the world of those with visual disabilities who may have braille for the words but nothing for the pictures. The extended narration and music enable them to ‘see’ the whole thing.”

Excerpts from review by Barbara Braxton, The Bottom Shelf

CBCA Reading Time – Cherie Bell

“With so many children’s books published every year, it must be difficult for authors, illustrators and other creatives to be original. Afloat in Venice, the first in the Monkey’s Great Adventures series, from a new, boutique publisher, feels refreshingly different from what the big publishers produce.” Excerpt from review by Cherie Bell

The Book Muse – Ashleigh Meikle

“It was such a special and unique reading experience, and I feel like it is one that will stand out for me …  A great read!” Excerpt from review by Ashleigh Meikle

The Burgeoning Bookshelf – Veronica Joy

“Tina Wilson uses clever staging and beautiful photography in this sweet story teaching children about the world around them, travel and friendship. The photographs and simple text show the excitement and adventure of travel abroad. The pictures have a certain charm about them with the warmth of hand-knitted toys and props showing everyday items that children will relate to. The photographs of the Venice scenery are stunning and make a good talking point for older children about the different way people live and travel around the world.” Excerpt from review by Veronica Joy

Gemma Patience @mypicturebookheart

“Combining photos of Venice with adorable hand-knitted characters and accessories, this is a gorgeous tale of adventure and friendship, sure to win the hearts of young readers. Showcasing the architecture and natural beauty of this unique part of Italy, this is the perfect book for armchair travellers in a time when we can only dream of overseas travel”.  Excerpt from review by Gemma Patience.

Kids’ Book Review – Sarah Steed

Afloat in Venice captures the thrill of travel from the perspective of someone who has never been overseas before, and features both a sense of adventure and innocence.” Excerpt from review by Sarah Steed, Kid’s Book Review