The next school holidays aren’t far away. If you live in NSW, we’ve heard that The Children’s Bookshop will be hosting some fabulous school holiday workshops for young readers, writers and actors.

grimsdonWorkshop 1: Deborah Abela — The Secret to Writing Great Stories (For students in Years 3–6)
Join Deb for a morning of writing fun as she reveals the secret to creating your own great stories. Then stay to celebrate the launch of New City, the sequel to her bestselling book, Grimsdon. Food and drink provided!
Monday 29 September 2014,  9–12-30pm
Cost: $50 per student . All materials are provided. Book early!


Phyllis Wong Book 2Workshop 2: Geoffrey McSkimming — Character Building (for children in Grades 5–8)
Join Geoffrey McSkimming, author of the Cairo Jim chronicles and the new Phyllis Wong mysteries, for a fun morning looking at how to create and flesh-out characters.
Tuesday 30 September 2014, 9–12-30pm
$50 per student. All materials provided. Book early!


Workshop 3: (Where’s) Wally Comes to Beecroft!(For Children Ages 5-7)
Share the stories and adventures of Wally from the Where’s Wally series. Lots of craft and art activities for the kids and a Where’s Wally show bag! Wally will be visiting and the kids will be asked to find Wally in Beecroft at the end of the workshop. 
When: Wednesday, 1 October 2014, 9–11am, then a Search for Wally between 11–11-30am with prizes!
$30 per student. All materials provided. Book early.

Work 4: The Tangled Tricks of Twelfth Night (For Students in Years 3–7)
Run by our resident drama teacher and Shakespeare enthusiast! A drama workshop full of fun and creativity — come and play with one of Shakespeare’s great comedies and discover Disguise, Fools, Forgery and Yellow Stockings. A hands-on and FUN workshop!
When: Thursday 2 October 204,  9–12-30pm

RSVP for any of these workshops: to The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah Street, Beecroft. Ph. 9481 8811

Our Village in the Sky by Janeen Brian, ill. Anne Spudvilas, ISBN 9781743318140, Allen and Unwin

Our Village in the Sky



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

This is a book about kids living in a village in the Himalayan mountains. Our Village in the Sky is a book of poems and each poem talks about what the kids do during the day. They have to do chores like take care of the animals, wash clothes and scrub dishes, carry water from a water pipe, and more.

I found it interesting because I didn’t know much about this sort of life and it’s very different from the lives of Australian kids. The kids in this book don’t have the technology that we have, they spend their days doing chores so their families can live, and they make their own fun outdoors. My favourite pages are the ones about the children washing the dishes in summer and winter. But my favourite poem (as a poem) is the one about playing knucklebones.

The illustrations are realistic, serious pictures and they help you to see what the kids in the village are like. It helps you to understand the emotions in the poems.

The book also has a QR code — it takes you to a website with audio. This is especially good for young kids who can look at the pictures and listen to the poems be read to them.

This book is good for kids aged 6 to 12. I would recommend this book especially for grades 3 and 4 in their classrooms because it teaches you about life in another country while enjoying a good read at the same time. I give it 7.75/10 — it’s not the sort of book I would normally pick up but I was glad that I did read it.

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

Taronga by Victor Kelleher, ISBN 9780140326314, Puffin Books

Taronga (cover)


 Julia is reviewing her own copy of Taronga.

From the first page of the book Taronga, Ben is uncovered as a boy who can communicate with animals. In this futuristic story, Ben is struggling to survive in the ‘new’ unrecognisable city of Sydney. Horrible events happen leaving Ben in a tight position, will he take the chance or give up?

Along the way Ben makes enemies and friends. Elle helps Ben and together they do what they think is right. But is it the right choice?

I didn’t like this chilling story but I felt compelled to finish it, as I wanted to see if Ben and Elle made the right or the wrong choice. I found the story line worrying and distressing. It is a story of a war — a war going on between the people in Taronga Zoo and the people on the outside of the walls surrounding Taronga Zoo.

What will happen to Ben and Elle and all the animals? Will they survive or will the ‘outsiders’ take over Taronga Zoo?


Julia is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  The Dog Who Loved a Queen.   If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines.

Happy reading!

roses are blue

Our Roses are Blue giveaway closed on 6 August. We put all the names into a soup bowl and pulled out the winner — TESSA BENNETT!

To enter, you were asked to visit the Poetry Tag website and choose your favourite poem (by Sally Murphy). You also had to tell us why you chose that poem.

Tessa said:

Fond Farewell is my favourite poem by Sally. It reminds me of my mum. At school drop off, even in the car, I wish had some Mum repellent too! At least if I had my head buried into Roses are Blue she might not come at me!

Congratulations Tessa! We hope you enjoy reading Roses are Blue.

July sped by. We hope you had time during the school holidays to hide away with some good books. Since it’s the last day of July, it’s the day for our team of keen readers to share their TOP READS for the month — the best book each of them read during July 2014. If you’re looking for a great book to read, our team recommends these titles!

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Our Australian Girl: Meet Daisy by Michelle Hamer, ill. Lucia Masciullo, ISBN 9780143307631, Puffin

Meet Daisy


Matilda borrowed this book from her local library.

Meet Daisy is set in 1930. Her dad can’t find a job and they’re poor, so she gets sent to the city in Melbourne to live with her Aunty May. Her little sister Flora goes as well.

Aunty May loves Flora but she really doesn’t like Daisy and Aunty May gets meaner and meaner every day. Daisy is scared that her aunt might throw her out if she doesn’t earn some money. She’s very disappointed that she can’t go to school and she really misses her dad.

I like stories with adventure and where something tragic happens and the characters have to find a way out of the situation. This is a really adventurous story and once I started reading I couldn’t stop. I’m up to book three in this series already (Daisy and the Mansion).

I recommend this book for ages 8 to 14.


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

Roses are Blue by Sally Murphy, ill. Gabriel Evans, ISBN 9781922244376, Walker Books Australia

roses are blue


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

This is a book about a girl called Amber who loves her mother but her mother has changed after an accident. Amber doesn’t want her mum coming to the Mothers Day party at school because she’s very embarrassed about her.

I really liked this book because at the start it made me feel very sad and then at the end I was happier. It was quite quick to read and had some interesting words.

The style of the drawings was the sort I like. They were black and white and there were lots of them. When you look at the pictures you can understand what’s happening in the story even better.

I would recommend Roses are Blue to my friends because it’s a change from the other sorts of books we read and it could be a true story.

This book would be good for ages 6 and older.

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

Matilda (8) reviewed Roses are Blue as part of Sally Murphy’s blog tour launching the book. We have one copy of this book to give away to an eager reader (yay! yay!).


Roses are Blue is Sally Murphy’s third verse novel. As well as nonfiction and fiction, Sally has had many poems published. You can read some of her recent poetry on the Poetry Tag blog.

1. Visit the Poetry Tag blog and check out the poems there.
2. Choose your favourite poem by Sally on the Poetry Tag site.
3. Email us and in 50 words or fewer let us know the poem you’ve chosen and why. Include your name and postal address. (If under 18 ask a parent or teacher to email your entry to us.)

Some fine print:

  • Entries are open to adults and children. Children will need to ask a parent or teacher to email their entry to us.
  • Entrants outside Australia welcome — but we will only post the book to an Australian address, so you’ll need to nominate an Australian address for us to post it to if you win.
  • You may only enter this giveaway once.
  • This giveaway ends 10am WST (that’s when it’s 10am in Perth, Western Australia) on Wednesday 6 August 2014.
  • All entrants’ names will be put into a soup bowl and one name will be drawn out to be the winner.
  • We will announce the winner on the blog within a week of notifying the winner.
  • This competition is not open to immediate family members of Alphabet Soup employees.
  • The prize includes one copy of Roses are Blue by Sally Murphy — mailed to one winner.
  • The winner will be notified via email.

This giveaway is part of a blog tour to celebrate the launch of Roses are Blue. For more about Sally Murphy, verse novels and Roses are Blue, check out the other stops on the blog tour:

Tuesday, July 22nd Karen Tyrrell (includes a giveaway)
Wednesday, July 23 Alphabet Soup (includes a giveaway)
Thursday, July 24 Kids’ Book Review
Friday, July 25 Write and read with Dale
Saturday, July 26 Diva Booknerd
Sunday, July 27 Children’s Books Daily
Monday, July 28 Boomerang Books Blog
Tuesday, July 29 Australian Children’s Poetry
Wednesday, July 30 Sally Murphy


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