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

My Life as an Alphabet

REVIEWED BY CELINE, 12, WA

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

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 8, WA

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.
Ever.

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

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 8, WA

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.

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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!

Dianne (Di) Bates has published 120+ books mostly for young readers. Some of her books have won children’s choice book awards. Di is a former teacher, schools’ performer and newspaper editor, and has worked as an editor on three children’s magazines. In 2008, Di was awarded The Lady Cutler Award for distinguished services to children’s Literature. Di lives near Wollongong, NSW, Australia, with her prize-winning YA author husband, Bill Condon.

Di Bates and Bill Condon

Di Bates and Bill Condon

Di is visiting Alphabet Soup today to tell us about a new anthology of children’s poetry coming out in 2016!

You are the commissioning editor for a poetry anthology for children coming out with Walker Books. What was your role in the book?
I spent many hours finding poems which were written by Australians and which would suit the themes I’d decided on for the anthology (such as sport, families, being a kid). I had to record the source of each poem (if it was in a single poet collection, an anthology, a magazine or if it was unpublished). I also tracked down contact addresses of the poets, gave the anthology a title (Our Home is Dirt by Sea) and then had to find a publisher for the whole anthology. This all sounds easy, but it took me several years.

Note: A poetry collection is written by a single poet; an anthology contains poems by numerous poets.

There are a lot of poems in an anthology. Do all the poets get paid if they have a poem published in an anthology?
Yes, poets are paid. As the editor, I get paid, as well. Unfortunately the publisher couldn’t include all the poems I wanted, because of financial limitations.

Does an editor ever change the words in a poem once it’s accepted for an anthology? Does the poet have a say in any changes?
I would never change the words — or the punctuation — in a poem without approval from the poet. I didn’t change any of the poems in my anthology.

Can you tell us a bit about the upcoming anthology?
Titled Our Home is Dirt by Sea, the anthology consists of 60 poems in the following categories: Australia, Mostly Me, Families, People, Animals, Sport, School, and Special Times. A few of the poems are lyrical, some make children think and some are humorous, but all are child-friendly and relatively short. The style of poems ranges from rhyming verse to free verse. I aimed for poems which make the reader feel some emotion when reading them, and for children to ‘see’ themselves or the world around them. Some of the poets are well-known such as Steven Herrick, Elizabeth Honey, Doug McLeod and Max Fatchen, but others are lesser known (to children) such as Robert Adamson, Kyle Seeburg, Andrew Leggett and Rodney Hall.

I have also compiled two other children’s poetry anthologies, but they are so far unpublished. And I’ve published a book of mad verse for children titled Erky Perky Silly Stuff (Five Senses Education).

erky perky silly stuff

Do you write poetry yourself? (Does that help when you are selecting poems for an anthology?)
Yes, I do write poems, but I don’t consider myself a very good poet. There are none of my poems in Our Home is Dirt by Sea, though there are a few by my husband, Bill Condon (who has published three collections). I know a lot about poetry from having a life-long love of poetry, teaching verse speaking, performing poetry and reading extensively. I’ve also run children’s poetry competitions and have a blog, Australian Children’s Poetry which showcases Australian children’s poets.

Keep an eye out for Our Home is Dirt by Sea in 2016! And you can find out more about Di Bates on her website: www.enterprisingwords.com.au.

Interview with Di Bates © November 2014 Di Bates & Rebecca Newman
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