The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, ISBN 9780439813785

Joseph borrowed a copy of this book from his local library.

Hugo is an orphan and his job is to check that all the clocks in the Paris station are the correct time. It was really his uncle’s job — Hugo can’t show his face to anyone official (like the station inspector) because then they’ll realise his uncle is gone and send Hugo to an orphanage. His uncle’s uncashed cheques are no good because Hugo can’t cash them. One day he finds an automaton his father was working on before he died. When his father’s notebook (the only thing Hugo has left to remind him of his father) is taken away, he relies on a girl called Isabel to get it back.

Will the automaton write him a message that will solve his problems?

This book has words and pictures. It’s a combination of graphic novel and a regular novel and it means you are satisfied that you read about 520 pages, when 284 pages were text-free!

It’s definitely worth reading. It has an original idea and the setting is not something I’d come across in everyday life.

I’d recommend this book to readers aged 9 and over, particularly kids who are fascinated by machinery. I give it five stars.

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


Molly and Pim and the millions of stars (cover)

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray, Text Publishing, ISBN 9781925240085

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

This is a story about working together and going and going at it and not stopping. I liked how it’s a book about magic. Molly and a boy called Pim are trying to fix the shocking accident that happens to Molly’s Mama early in the book. (Before he starts helping, Molly thinks that Pim is weird because he does all this weird stuff at school.)

The cover looked kind of gentle with the hat and the girl and the dog and I liked how they used glittery bits for the stars. But I didn’t think the title was the best title for this book. I would have called it ‘Molly and Pim and the Mama Tree’.

I liked how this book made me laugh out loud and how it was short and sharp. My favourite character is Prudence Grimshaw. She’s mean and she’s a really picky lady. I can really imagine her voice in my head as I read.

Girls from ages 9 to 11 would enjoy this book most.

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

Two more book launches — if you live in Victoria or WA, mark these dates on your calendar!



Come along to the launch of Bob the Railway Dog by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Andrew McLean. This picture book tells a heart-warming true Australian story. This is a well-known legend in SA and a statue of Bob can be seen in the Adelaide Station.

Bob the railway dog (cover)

When: 11am, Saturday 1 August 2015

Where: The Railfan Shop, 4 Churchill St, Mont Albert, VIC (opp. Mont Albert Railway Station)

RSVP: by 29 July 2015 to corinneking[at]bigpond.com



Sister heart (cover)

Come along to the launch of Sally Morgan’s new book Sister Heart, to be launched by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Sister Heart is a verse novel aimed at 10 to 15 year olds.

‘ [a] personal and approachable conversation-starter about the Stolen Generations for mature young readers.’
— Bookseller + Publisher.

When: 6pm, Wednesday 6 August 2015

Where: New Edition Bookshop, 41 High St, Fremantle WA (cnr Henry St)

RSVP: Entry is free but places are limited and must be reserved in advance by contacting admin[at]fremantlepress.com.au or 9430 6331. Only those who RSVP will be allowed entry on the night.

New Edition has pledged to donate a percentage of all books sold at the launch of Sister Heart to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.


Why go to a book launch? Here are ten reasons why you should!


Summer in Enchantia (Cover)

Magic Ballerina: Summer in Enchantia by Darcey Bussell, ill. Dynamo Limited, HarperCollins Children’s Books, ISBN 9780007317219

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

This is about a girl called Rosa who has magic ballet shoes. Whenever there is trouble in Enchantia the ballet shoes whisk her off there so she can help solve the problem. This time the king and queen of Enchantia want to have a garden party but pirates are stealing everything they need for the party.

I found out about this series (about Rosa) when I read a Delphie book (another girl in the Magic Ballerina series.) I like this book because it’s about working together to solve a problem. There are seven books in the Rosa series.

I’d recommend this book for ages 6 to 10 and for people who like ballet.

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


Tea and sugar Christmas (cover)

Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly, ill. Robert Ingpen, NLA Publishing, ISBN 9780642278630

This book was written by Jane Jolly and illustrated by Robert Ingpen — an Australian award-winning illustrator, who I think draws the most amazing pictures I have ever seen. This picture book has around 16 pages with black and white illustrations, along with some coloured ones too.

This fictional short story based on true life events tells the story of a young aboriginal girl named Kathleen. She is waiting with so much excitement for the Thursday weekly supply train, which serviced the remote communities from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie for 81 years. However this train is a special train as it is the first Thursday of December, which means Father Christmas will be visiting.

I especially liked how at the end of this book, it has a few pages with factual information and real pictures of the supply train. It tells how these isolated people relied on the train for groceries, household goods and even medical advice.

This is Jamie’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Beaconsfield Primary students, you can click on ‘Beaconsfield Primary School’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

After a very busy month at Alphabet Soup, it’s that time again! Our team of Top Readers* are back with their favourite reads from June.

* Today we welcome Xavier to the team — Xavier is 6 and lives in the Northern Territory. When he’s not reading, Xavier enjoys being outdoors, swimming and running. He loves telling himself stories and when he grows up, Xavier wants to be an adventurer.

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 May 2015 Top Reads.

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

Stig Wemyss reads books. Out loud. Lots and lots of books by all sorts of people like Andy Griffiths, Paul Jennings, Margaret Clark, Tim Winton, Stig Wemyss (himself!) and … well, HEAPS more. You might know him as the voice of The 13-Storey Treehouse audiobooks (he even reads the ‘audio illustrations’. Cool.). Stig Wemyss is someone we have wanted to interview for a long time … and what better month to do it in than June — to celebrate Hear a Story!

Stig Wemyss

Photo courtesy Stig Wemyss

So — what’s it like to be an audiobook narrator? Read on!


Where do you live?
I live in the back shelf of Andy Griffith’s fridge, behind the relish. Wait — Andy’s not going to see this is he? I really don’t want him to know I’m in here. Maybe it’s better if you just put “Melbourne, Victoria” and don’t mention the whole fridge thing … Um, can you close the door, the margarine is starting to melt.

What skills do you need to be the narrator for an audiobook? 
People underestimate how difficult it is to be narrator. Like, you have to be able to read, for a start. You have to have a whole range of different voices, you have to spend hours at a time locked in a little glass booth — so if you’re claustrophobic, forget about it — and you have to be a bit of an idiot. So as you can see, I tick all the boxes.

How did you find a job as an audiobook narrator?
I started narrating books about 25 years ago. Somebody recommended me to Vision Australia as an actor that might be good to narrate books for kids and young adults because of the youthful quality of my voice. And the fact that I would do it for free. I can’t remember what my first title was and I suspect I was probably not very good but for whatever reason, the producers loved it and continued to get me back. Not long after that, I narrated Tim Winton’s That Eye The Sky [a book for adults] which went on to win a number of audiobook awards and the rest, as they say, is history.

Do you discuss a book with its author and illustrator before you record it as an audiobook?
Most authors are happy to let narrators bring their own spin to a book. Andy Griffiths has given me a license to play around and be creative, providing I’m true to the text. I remember getting a letter from Nan Bodsworth after I had narrated one of her books saying how much she loved my performance. That was really nice, usually you never hear from the authors … unless it’s to ask you to move out of their fridge.

[Listen to an excerpt of Stig Wemyss narrating The 52-Storey Treehouse.]

The-52-storey treehouse audiobook

Do you get to choose which books you record?
Bolinda are fantastic at matching the right voice for the book. I’m lucky enough to have been asked to narrate over 150 books for Bolinda and I said yes to all of them. These days I even do live shows in schools and libraries around the country. (You can find out if I’m coming to a library near you on the internet. Just look for Stig Live @ The Library.) 

You wrote The Tripp Diaries specifically as an audiobook. What’s different about writing a book that’s intended to be an audiobook, rather than one to be read in traditional fashion?
Audio is a whole different medium, it is theatre of the mind. With audio, you can create fantastical, larger-than-life scenarios using music and sound effects so you can take the listener on a journey well beyond what you could just with the written word. It’s sort of like animation with your eyes closed.

When you read in your own time, do you prefer to read books the traditional way or do you prefer audiobooks?
I love reading and I love listening. The great thing about an audio book is you can read it anywhere, anytime … and while you’re doing something else. Driving, cleaning, exercising, knitting, shearing a sheep, painting a house, doing homework, pretending to be asleep, on a bus, on a train, at the beach … these are all things I’ve done while listening to an audio book. Reading I tend to do in bed.

Do you have any tips for young people who would like to record audiobooks (or perhaps podcasts)?
Go for it! Make up something crazy and outrageous and record it. Make up silly voices and crazy sound effects. There is no limit to the fun you can have with audio, it’s a playground for your imagination.

Hear a Story, See a Story, Feel a Story ©-ACLA. Image used with permission.

This post is part of the celebrations of Hear a Story … and Hear a Story is part of the work of the Australian Children’s Laureate, Jackie French. You can find out more about Hear a Story on the Australian Children’s Laureate site. And check out our other interviews this month with an oral storyteller (Glenn B Swift), and with Jackie French herself.

For more about STIG WEMYSS and his audiobooks, check out his website!

Interview with Stig Wemyss © June 2015 Stig Wemyss & Rebecca Newman

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