The White Ship by Jackie French, Harper Collins Australia, ISBN 9780207197987

The White Ship (cover)


 The White Ship is an interesting book written about one of the difficult times in France. It was published in 2002 by HarperCollins Publishing and written by Jackie French. Jackie also is the author of Hitler’s Daughter, which, like The White Ship, is historical fiction.

The White Ship tells the story of Michel, a young French boy who lives on an island of the coast of France. The story is set in the period of Queen Catherine who announced the execution of all Protestants in France. When Michel and his island are threatened, he and the rest of the children embark on the White Ship, to find a new country where they can be safe. The days are long and repetitive. When the Captain continually sails past the same island that no one except himself and Michel can see, Michel realizes there is something strange going on.

The White Ship was well written, though it started off dull. Jackie French describes well and brings Michel’s journey to life. By the middle of the story it urges readers to read on and solve the mysteries hidden in its pages. One could tell by reading the story that the writer had done good research and knew her topic. The start of the story was slightly gruesome, as it describes the executions, so I would recommend it for years eight and above. Overall the story was an intriguing one and I was impressed by Jackie French’s good writing, though the story takes a while to really grab the reader’s attention. I was disappointed with the aforesaid slow beginning; I believe that for a writer as talented as Jackie French she would have understood that grabbing readers’ attention is an important aspect of story writing.

I think that The White Ship is an interesting piece of work. Jackie French explained problems that occur in modern day Australia and old issues from the 16th century, France. I was pleased with her descriptive language and research. Overall the book was impressive though some parts were disappointing for an author such as Jackie French.

This is Mikaela’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. (You can read another review of this book earlier on the blog.)

If YOU would like to send us a book review of your chosen book, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Lulu (cover)


Come along to the launch of a new picture book. There will be polar bear craft for the kids, a reading of Lulu and lots of scrumptious treats for everyone.

When: Saturday 13 June at 11am.

Where: Sutherland Library, 30–36 Belmont Street, Sutherland, NSW

This is a free event but bookings are essential. To book, or for more info, visit the Sutherland Shire Council site.

Copies of the books will be available for sale and signing by the author.

Saving Saturn (cover)


Celebrate the launch of Jake in Space: Saving Saturn, part of the sci-fi adventure series for 7+.

When: Sunday 28 June, 10.30am.

Where: Where the Wild Things Are, 191 Boundary St, West End, QLD.

RSVP: events[at]avidreader.com.au

Find out more about the book at the Jake in Space website.

The Simple Things by Bill Condon, ill. Beth Norling, ISBN 9781743317242, Allen and Unwin

The Simple Things (cover)


Joseph reviewed his own copy of this book.

The Simple Things is about a boy named Stephen who’s never met his great aunt Lola before. His only connection with her is the birthday and Christmas cards she sends to him with $10 inside. His family goes to stay with his great aunt because they haven’t seen her in over 10 years and they’re her only relatives left. Stephen thinks there will be nothing to do and Aunty Lola seems very stubborn — she overreacts to everything.

I enjoyed this book because I liked how the characters were reacting to their situation. The illustrations at the start of every chapter are comic-like and black and white. They suit the characters and the story, and give a bit of a hint about what’s going to happen in each chapter without entirely giving everything away.

I thought the choice of cover illustration didn’t suit the book the best. I think the picture that was at the start of chapter 4 would have been better for the cover because the whole book isn’t about Stephen going fishing (and he’s alone on the cover, but he’s almost never alone in the book.)

This is a book about unusual friendships. It was an easy, quick read for me so I think ages 8 to 12 would enjoy it.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Lennie the Legend. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

The White Ship by Jackie French, Harper Collins Australia, ISBN 9780207197987 The White Ship (cover)


The all time favourite writer is back again with another wonderful story. The White Ship, by Jackie French, focuses on a story about a religion, friendship, and fairness, but more than anything, freedom. This book reflects on how we should behave today. The book faces us with real life challenges that we should handle the right way. Once you start reading this book, it will become impossible to put the book down.

The story-line of this novel is the desperation of a search for a place to call home. Michel lives off the coast of France. Rachel lives on an island too, off the coast of Australia. Forced to flee, with the the threat of murder, Michel and the other children of the Island escape on the White Ship, in search for a place to call home. As they sail, Michel realises something. the gentle blue-green waves of the sea are not what they’re sailing on. The White Ship is sailing on time itself. Through countless dreams, Rachel and Michel uncover a special bond, friendship. Over time, the bond becomes stronger; so strong that it could convince the White Ship to come ashore, and live in Australia. After all, Australia is a free country, right?

As you can guess, Michel and the other children and crew of the White Ship are refugees. But they are not the only refugees seeking a home in Australia. In fact, a couple of thousand refugees come into Australia every year! With numbers like these, the Australian government sends the refugees to detention camps, where they are kept, until they’re dealt with. After a long and tough journey, like Michel’s, the refugees deserve a better greeting. This book makes us realise this in such a way, it feels like you’re in the situation.

Rachel is definitely not a city person. Although Rachel boards at Sydney, she isn’t sucked into the latest technology. She can’t wait to get home, to the island, full of nature. People shouldn’t be so addicted to technology these days, but be addicted to nature. Michel lives on an island, and cares for his family more than anything. People, today, should care a lot more about other things.

What makes this book so special is its unique features. Out of all the books I’ve ever read, there has never been a plot as creative and imaginative as in this novel. Jackie French uses her stunning ability to describe scenes and events throughout the story. It is amazing how the words of the story created pictures in your mind as you read this thrilling book. It really feels like you’re there. Another unique feature of this book is the way Jackie French wrote; she has written the story from different views. Sometimes the way the characters say things, it can be hard to understand what they mean, but after a while you will get the hang of things. If you don’t, the other qualities of this book will make up for it!

I would recommend The White Ship for ages 10+, or people who can deal with emotions and death. The genre would be drama, and maybe some murder, adventure and mystery, too. This novel is definitely an award winning book.

This is Millie’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, Collins Modern Classics, ISBN 0007155026

harriet the spy (cover)


Matilda borrowed a copy of this book from her local library.

Harriet is 11 and she likes to know everything about people, so she watches them without them knowing (and writes all about them in her notebook). Her best friends are Sport (whose name is really Simon) and Janie.

One day Harriet is playing chasey with her classmates — they run around knocking books out of each other’s arms. One of her books is her notebook and a classmate picks it up and starts reading it. (Harriet hasn’t only written good things. This is a disaster.)

There were some interesting old-fashioned things in this book, like a dumbwaiter.

I liked how Harriet never gives up. Some of the book was funny, like the school play and the way Harriet’s dad talked (and sometimes how Harriet copies him) and when her dad joins Harriet in trying to act like an onion.

I like this book because Harriet wasn’t like anyone else I’ve met.

People aged 9 to 14 will like this book because it’s about kids at school, friendship and how writing mean things can break a friendship.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman, Viking (Penguin Australia), ISBN 9780670077427

Loyal creatures (cover)


Hayley borrowed Loyal Creatures from the library.

The story is set in 1914, World War One. It is about a boy, Frank, and his loyal horse, Daisy. They enlist in the light horse brigade after Frank’s dad receives a white feather. I had never heard of a ‘white feather’ or what they did with them, before I read this book, so I was in shock after I’d found out. They face the abomination of war and some utterly unjustifiable things happened.

I enjoyed reading it because it gave me a real insight as to how ghastly war was! The book is so sad it made me cry at some points knowing it was based on a true time in Australian history. I felt so sorry for Frank.

I would recommend this book for grade 5/6 and up because it has very mature themes. This is my first Morris Gleitzman novel and I am eager to read another.

This is Hayley’s first ever book review for Alphabet Soup. (Thanks, Hayley!) Would YOU like to send us a book review?  Check out our submission guidelines. For some great book-review writing tips, visit The Book Chook’s website.)

Happy reading!

Term 2 is underway — we hope you read a heap of great books while you were munching on chocolate eggs. (Send us some book reviews, we love book reviews!) As we wave April goodbye, the weather is cooling down at the Alphabet Soup office and we think it must be time for some recommended books for rainy days. You’ve come to the right place — our team of Top Readers* have just the list for you.

Here are some great reads:


You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reading Team on the last day of every month. If you missed last month’s, don’t forget to check out the March 2015 Top Reads.

*All our Top Readers are kids aged 13 and under. No grownups allowed!


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