Book review: New City

New City by Deborah Abela, ISBN 9781742758558,
Random House Australia

New city


A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

New City is the sequel to Grimsdon, but you don’t need to read the first book to appreciate New City.

The book is set after the events of Grimsdon, when Isabella, adult friend Jeremiah, and her other friends, who survived together in the first book, are taken from the flooded Grimsdon to the beautiful New City. They are treated like heroes and live in luxury. But is it such a wonderful place, or do darker secrets lie beneath?

The kids have faced sea monsters and evil lords, but now they have new threats to face.

New City shows how the people can make change happen, and how just one person can make a change in the world. I like how Deborah has used real events from our times for her own story, and she has made her characters likeable and believable. They have developed over the course of the story and you can see their friendship with each other.

Deborah’s writing is is simple and sweet. But I do believe that some of Deborah’s ideas are unrealistic.

As this is set in the future, all sorts of new inventions have been invented, like invisible wings called Ornithopters. They have cameras everywhere, and hi-tech technology is a solid part of the people’s lives. Yet, they still use eagles as messenger birds, when technology would’ve normally replaced them.

Deborah has brought out a unique story that will be enjoyable for children of ages 9 and up. If you enjoy adventures in worlds that are both like and unlike our own, then this book is worth a try. In my opinion, this is an improvement on Grimsdon. Deborah has explored new ideas and has presented them well. I rate New City 4 stars out of 5.

Do you think you’d enjoy this book? You can read a sample of New City on the publisher’s website.

Veronica is a member of our Top Reads Team, and this is her first book review on Alphabet Soup’s blog. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg, Allen and Unwin, ISBN 9781743310977

My Life as an Alphabet


Celine reviewed her own copy of this book

Candice Phee has led an extraordinary life, and her family has gone through much sadness: the loss of her younger sister’s life, her mother’s breast cancer, and her father’s fight with his brother. Candice herself has no friends, and many of her classmates think of her as someone who has ‘special needs’, even though she is perfectly normal. She desperately wants her family and herself to become normal, and happy as they used to be. When Douglas Benson, the new kid in class becomes friends with Candice, things start to change. Candice decides that she will make everyone happy, and so, with the help of Uncle Brian and the advice of Earth-Pig-Fish, Candice strives to make her world a better place. Will her plan work?

This book is recommended to girls who love stories about relationships with a twist of science fiction. It was a marvellous story, and although some of it was hard to believe, I would give this book a rating of 10/10.

Celine is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  The Broken Sun. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

The Red Wheelbarrow by Briony Stewart, UQP, ISBN 9780702249259

The Red Wheelbarrow


Matilda reviewed her own copy of this book. 

There are no words in this picture book — the pictures tell the story. There’s a big sister and a little sister and they have a red wheelbarrow to sit in and eat lollies. One has a blanket and one has pigtails. They love each other but there is some fighting because the little sister wants another lolly but the big sister won’t give her another one. There are some chickens watching nearby.

I’d love to have a wheelbarrow I could play in — I could put a pillow in it and drag it into my room and sleep in it. It would be so relaxing to have a bed on wheels.

There’s a photo at the end of the book which shows you that the book is really about when Briony and her sister used to sit in a wheelbarrow when they were kids.

I think little sisters and big sisters will like this book. (It teaches them not to be selfish to the little sister, or not to have a tantrum if the big sister is being selfish.)

The Red Wheelbarrow would be good for 3 to 7 year olds.

Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  Orpheus and Eurydice. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

The Electric Fence

by Veronica Hester


Imagine the tragedy that
Had befallen me
The boomerang flung through the air
No, it didn’t hit me
I walked through the long grass
No, a snake didn’t bite me
The sunset was blooming
The boys were on their gleaming motorbikes
No, they didn’t run me over
But the noise should’ve killed me.

I took it all in
Smiling, breathing
And leaned on the fence
Right in front of me
I, of course, had forgotten
That I was on a farm
And when fences are silver
You don’t lean on them.

And that’s why I don’t lean on fences.

This poem was the winner of our 2014 poetry competition. For more writing competitions for kids, check out our Comps for Kids page.

Thank you to all the young poets who entered our 2014 Poetry Competition. We were blown away by the quality of your poems and our judge (Rebecca Newman) had a very hard time choosing one winner. Rebecca did have a fabulous time reading all your poems!

The winners:

1st place — $30 book voucher

‘The Electric Fence’ by Veronica Hester, 11, NSW

Judge’s comments: This free-verse poem crafted a clear scene for the audience. Effective use of repetition builds anticipation and the voice of the storyteller is engaging. What is not said (but left to our imagination) adds an amusing layer to the poem.

2nd place

‘Sounds of the Night’ by Jamie D’Mello, 7, WA

Highly Commended

‘The Dark Clown’ by Meg Edelman, 12, WA

Certificates (and first prize) will be posted out to these poets at the end of the week. Don’t go away! We’ll post Veronica’s winning poem here on the blog later today …

TOP READS (November)

Here we are at the end of November — and the end of the year is in sight! We hope your last weeks of school are fun and it’s not too hot just yet. It will be time for holiday reading very soon and here are some great reads, recommended by our team of young readers. These titles are their favourites read during November. (Check back on 31st December with the last TOP READS for 2014!)

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Go back to October’s top reads.

Orpheus and Eurydice, retold by Hugh Lupton & Daniel Morden, ill. Carole Hénaff, Barefoot Books, ISBN 9781846867842

orpheus and eurydice


Matilda reviews her own copy of this book. 

This is a Greek myth and it tells the story of how Orpheus and Eurydice got married but then Eurydice died. Orpheus really loved Eurydice so he goes to the Land of Forgetfulness (the Land of the Dead) to ask for Eurydice back. He thinks he can get her back if he plays his lyre for the god Hades and the goddess Persephone. Will life go back to normal for Orpheus and Eurydice?

I already knew this myth from school and this book explains the story really well.

I like the illustrations because they are like paintings from a mural and I like the extra decorations added — like swirls in Eurydice’s hair.

The story does have creepy parts, so BEWARE! In other bits the words are so soothing and they get into your heart and make your heart burn with sadness for Orpheus and Eurydice.

People from ages 8+ will like this book and also people who like Greek myths, folktales and adventures.


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  The Lost Girl. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!


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