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Palace Malice, by Donald Woodburn

Palace Malice is Donald Woodburn’s fourth children’s picture flat publication and it follows on in the comic style of He Sneezed On Me. This time however there is so much more for the reader to engage with due to the fact that it is necessarily more sophisticated than He Sneezed On Me. There is an edge to the illustrations, definitely an edge to the storyline, the language is more advanced, the ideas more social and so on. It is a fun read, but its wicked, almost nasty, a little naughty and quite a feast of fun!

And Donald’s experience with it in the classroom, both before and since publishing, is that this is a book that will often be revisited by children. The response he gets when reading it to children has been amazing and very affirming.

Donald says “There is nothing like effortlessly engaging with 8 to 12 year olds simply because of the content of the story. The concentration, the wincing, the delight and the laughter are amazing. It will be very hard to stop me publishing more stories now!”

The Story

Palace Malice charts the excesses of a rather nasty woman! In the book we see her terrible treatment of animals and people and we witness her appalling social behaviour, albeit in a rather dark and amusing way. We meet her and her Bling King friend on the first page, then see her taunting caged animals, hounding her servants, abusing the public and flaunting her obscene wealth. And then we get to enjoy her delicious demise! The excess of it all is slightly alluring, rather repulsive and uncomfortably amusing. But the message is strong and so the story important!

The Message

Although it is a little uncomfortable, in this day and age when we face social inequality, population pressure and global warming, sometimes a cute bunny and a lyrical tale are not enough for the bedroom shelf.

The Author

Donald Woodburn was born in Ixopo and grew up in the Southern Midlands in KZN, and was schooled in Ixopo, Richmond and PMB. He is currently living back in KZN and is mostly based in Durban. After a slow start in the writing/publishing business he is beginning to enjoy a more active and public role as an author. He is frequently invited to meet with children and learners at school and has recently spoken at the Time Of The Writer, at the Books & Leisure stand at the Cape Town Book Fair, and at the Writer’s Circle in Durban. He is currently marketing Palace Malice and is already working on publishing his fifth book.

The Illustrator

Robin Date is a 16 year old illustrator who lives in Pietermaritzburg. For Palace Malice she worked with pencil crayons on paper. The result is astonishing. No gentle water colours here! Her pictures are bold, bright and extremely sophisticated. Her line and form is remarkable and she is in Donald’s opinion the new illustrator to watch out for. If this is what she can do at 16, then we should all be itching to see her work at 40. She is headed for great success!

Why Donald wrote Palace Malice

Palace Malice comments on the materialism, greed and selfishness of our world. Over the years I have grown to rather dislike driving on South Africa’s roads, being shoved in queues, being bullied by people in positions of authority, being brushed aside by those with more and watching so many people battling to hold it together while others simply stomp all over them.

Our selfishness and our abuse of the public space does not sit well with me and Palace Malice is my reaction to that. It is my social comment on it all.

Anecdotally I drive an old Toyota Conquest. “So what” you ask? Well let me tell you. South African’s don’t care for cheap old cars. In my Conquest I receive no special treatment and sometimes no courtesy at all. But mention my Parkhurst address anywhere and many a door is quickly opened to me with a big smile. How odd as I usually get to those doors in my Conquest.”

The Back Page

What the School Principal’s said:

  • “Another beautifully illustrated book by a colourful, local, up and coming young author.”

Pat Strachan, Camelot College, Durban

  • “Gross, tasty descriptions that just can't be misplaced... this book is quite perfect for all kinds of taste! It is a wonderfully colourful story with appeal and meaning for all ages.”

Robin Odell, Lynford School, Ixopo

  • “An outrageously wicked woman gets her just deserts in this lively, beautifully illustrated story.”

Stella Hortop, Manor Gardens Primary, Durban

  • “A delightful story that will appeal yo many a child’s sense of humour.”

Lyn Breytenbach, Clarence Primary School, Durban

What the parents said:

  • “Donald Woodburn once again demonstrates his incredible blend of Seuss-like wit and Dahlian charm in this story, which illustrates a superb moral lesson and stretches the vocabularies of little learning minds. A must-have for the bedroom shelf.”

Jessica Kell, Durban

  • “Woodburn is watching us and we had better beware! This is outrageously funny and scorchingly scathing social commentary with a twist. Yet another triumph for the author!”

Natasha Russo, Durban

Retail Outlets


  • Adams Books - All titles in print
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  • KZN mobile stores-
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  • Adams Musgrave (and others by order)
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  • KZNSA Gallery Shop
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  • Adams
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  • Bookworld (Cascades)
  • MAST Books (By Order)


  • Exclusive Books (Hyde Park - and all others by inter-store order out of Hyde Park or Midlands Mall)
  • Fascination / Incredible Books (Can be ordered inter-store out of Fascination Books Gateway)
  • Piece (Michelangelo Sandton & The Firs Rosebank)
  • Polly Potter's Toy Store (Parkhurst- not necessarily on display, so please ask)

Cape Town-

  • a is for apple (Kloofnek Rd)
  • Exclusive Books (Order inter-store out of Hyde Park or Midlands Mall)

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