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Archive for July, 2011

The Pup’s Tale by Darrel and Sally Odgers, ill. Janine Dawson, Scholastic Press ISBN 9781741697254"The Pup's Tale (cover)"
A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

Trump is an animal liaison officer at Pet Vet clinic. (He’s a Jack Russell terrier.) This is book 6 in the Pet Vet series.

When Dr Jeanie (the vet) checks on a mother labrador and her 15 newborn puppies, she discovers that the mother dog isn’t able to look after the smallest puppy, Tiny. Trump and Dr Jeanie have to try to find a foster-mother for Tiny, and keep an eye on him.

Before you get into the story, there are some sketches of the important people in the book. Throughout the book there are grey info boxes to help with interesting words (like ‘Runt—the smallest pup or piglet in a litter.’)

If you like books about animals (and especially dogs!), you’ll love The Pup’s Tale.

© July  2011 “Review of The Pup’s Tale by Darrel and Sally Odgers, ill. Janine Dawson”, reviewed by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

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Closing date: 19 August 2011.

Here’s a competition open to NSW students aged 12 and under. Write a story called ‘STUCK AT HOME IN MY PJs’.

Prizes include having your story published on the Asthma Foundation NSW website, a signed book by Libby Gleeson, and being invited to read your story at a morning tea where you will meet Libby Gleeson and also hear her read from one of her books. (There are also prizes for school groups.)

Closing date: 19 August 2011.

For competition entry details, visit the Asthma Foundation NSW website. Good luck!

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Issue 11 cover, Alphabet Soup magazine

ACTIVITIES AND LISTENING LIST

for Issue 11—WINGS

1. MAKE paper butterflies. Use a square of colourful paper or cut up some junk mail. Make concertina folds—fold the top edge of the paper down towards yourself in a thin rectangle. (Don’t fold the paper in half, that fold is too big!). Flip the paper over so that the folded side is now face down on the table and at the bottom of the page. Fold the bottom of the page up, so that the previous fold lines up with it. Flip the paper over again so the folded pieces are now face down on the table and at the top of the paper. Fold the paper from the top again and continue folding and flipping until the whole page has been folded like a concertina. Then pinch the rectangle at the centre and twist a pipecleaner (chenille stick) around it to hold it tight. The two ends of the pipecleaner will be the antennae. Fan out the wings a little. And make twenty more! (Perhaps you could attach them all to a coathanger to make a mobile.)

2. FOLD painted butterfly pictures. On a blank piece of paper, dab some blobs of paint around the middle section of the paper. Fold the paper in half (with the paint on the inside) and gently press it flat so the paint inside squishes about a bit. Open the paper and inspect your butterfly painting! (Great for cards or use as wrapping paper or stick on the fridge!)

3. PAPER AEROPLANE RACES: Grab some friends and check out a paper-aeroplane website to learn how to fold your favourite paper aeroplanes and then have a competition to see whose design is fastest or flies furthest or looks the coolest. (Record your predictions about which one you think will fly furthest, and write down the distances each plane flies. Then you might even convince your parents or your teacher that paper aeroplane flying is educational!)

4. GET BAKING!: Make some butterfly cupcakes. Try this recipe for cakes with wings, or this recipe using marshmallows and sour worms might be more your style. If butterflies aren’t your thing, can you think of a way to adapt these recipes to turn them into bat cakes or owl cakes?

5. READ some wing-themed books! For upper primary kids, we like Cicada Summer by Kate Constable, Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, for lower to middle primary kids, try The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, or Duck for a Day by Meg McKinlay and if you love picture books you could try The Truth About Penguins by Meg McKinlay & ill. Mark Jackson, The Story of Ping by Majorie Flack ill. Kurt Weise or the nonfiction picture book Australian Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars by Jill Morris & Lynne Tracey. Or read ‘The Six Swans’ folktale in the current issue of Alphabet Soup (or the poems also in the current issue!). Can you think of any others?


MUSIC LISTENING LIST

Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library—libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)

1. FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE

“Flight Of The Bumblebee” is a piece written by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera “The Tale Of Tsar Sultan”, composed in 1899-1900.

The piece is played at the end of Act Three, where the magic Swan-Bird changes the Tsar’s son into an insect so that he can fly away to visit his father (who does not know he is alive).

In 2010, the violinist Oliver Lewis broke the record for the fastest performance of “Flight Of The Bumblebee” – playing it in 1 minute and 3.356 seconds.

2. THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS VIOLIN CONCERTO

“The Butterfly Lovers” is a violin concerto co-written by Shanghai Conservatory of Music students Gang Chen and Zhanhao He in 1958.

It  premiered to great acclaim in 1959, but was then declared decadent five years later during the Cultural Revolution – and both composers were imprisoned. Their “crime” was attempting to fuse Western instrumentation and tonalities with traditional Chinese melodies.

3. SWAN LAKE

The music for the ballet “Swan Lake” was written by  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The story is thought to be based on “The Stolen Veil” by the German author Johann Karl August Musäus and the Russian folktale “The White Duck” .

The premiere performance in 1877 was not a huge success.

The Russian ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya – for whom the role of Odette was originally intended – was removed from the performance, when a government official in Moscow complained about her, stating that she had accepted several pieces of expensive jewellery from him, and then married a fellow dancer – selling the jewellery for cash.

The dancers, decor and orchestra were all unanimously crtiicised, and Tchaikovsky’s music was considered too complicated for a ballet. His music was decried by critics as too noisy!

After Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893, the Italian composer Riccardo Drigo was granted permission by Tchaikovsky’s brother Modest to revise the music for the ballet’s revival.

It is Drigo’s revision of Tchaikovsky’s score of Swan Lake that is the most often performed and recognised today.

4. THE THREE RAVENS

A traditional English folk song printed in the song book “Melismata”, compiled and published by the English composer Thomas Ravenscroft  in 1611. It is also known as “Twa Corbies” (“Two Ravens” or “Two Crows”) and most often sung to the Breton melody – “An Alarc’h” (“The Swan”).

The American scholar Francis James Child (appointed Harvard’s first ever Professor of English in 1876) included these versions in his  monumental five volume collection of English and Scottish ballads – The Child Ballads – released between 1892 and 1898.

5. THE SWAN

“Le cygne” or “The Swan” is the thirteenth movement of “The Carnival Of The Animals” by Camille Saint-Saëns.
The famous piece features a solo cello.

This is the only movement from “The Carnival Of The Animals” that Saint-Saëns would allow to be played in public during his lifetime, as he thought the other movements were all too frivolous and would damage his reputation as a serious composer.

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 10 (autumn 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 9 (summer 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 8 (spring 2010).

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BIG Kids Magazine is launching in Australia later this year. The magazine is the work of Jo Pollitt and Lilly Blue—promoting creativity in children in collaboration with artists (big and small).

Today I’m over at the BIG blog, talking about how and why I started Alphabet Soup back in 2008. Check out the 2008 photo of me opening the very first box of Alphabet Soup. The covers have changed a bit since then! (Have you read issue 1?)

~ Rebecca Newman, Editor

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Mr Tripp Smells a Rat by Sandy McKay, ill. Ruth Paul, Walker Books Australia ISBN 9781921529061

A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

"Mr Tripp Smells a Rat (cover)"Lily is in Room 5 at school and Mr Tripp Smells a Rat has three stories about the teacher Mr Tripp and his class. Lily thinks Mr Tripp is awesome—he tells jokes and he has a clever nose for sniffing things out.

Story 1: Mr Tripp Smells a Rat

Mr Tripp has to sniff out a pet rat who has escaped from another classroom. Mr Tripp hates rats, but he has to be brave because all his students are peering in the window watching him!

Story 2: Mr Tripp Eats Some Fish

Mr Tripp tells the class he has been on a diet—eating lots of fish and fruit and vegetables to lose weight and stay healthy. His birthday is coming up and the class want to throw him a surprise party. But what sort of cake can you make for a teacher on a seafood diet?

Story 3: Mr Tripp Finds a Nit

Eww! Room 5 learns about headlice and how to get rid of headlice and nits! This bit made me laugh:

 

Suddenly everyone started scratching because when you talk about things living in your hair it makes you itchy.

 

(Doesn’t that make you feel like scratching your head, too?) At the end of 2 weeks, Mr Tripp checks everyone’s hair to see if the class is headlice-free. And he makes a horrible discovery …

There are great illustrations on every page of Mr Tripp Smells a Rat. (I like the one where Mr Tripp puts his finger on his nose and goes cross-eyed.)

The stories are fun and include lots of riddles. There are even three bonus pages at the end of the book with more of Mr Tripp’s favourite riddles. If you are starting to enjoy chapter books, this is a great book to add to your reading pile.

© July  2011 “Review of Mr Tripp Smells a Rat by Sandy McKay, ill. Ruth Paul”, reviewed by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

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Artwork from Mirror by Jeannie Baker. (Ipswich Art Gallery, Queensland)

"Mirror (cover)"See the artwork from the picture book, Mirror—detailed collages in the book show the similarities in the life of a boy living in Sydney and a boy living in Morocco.

This exhibition is suitable for all ages and there will be art activities available.

When: Monday, 18 July – Sunday, 2 October 2011
Where: Children’s Gallery, Ipswich Art Gallery, d’Arcy Doyle Place, Nicholas Street, Ipswich (Central Queensland)
For more info: Tel: 07 3810 7222 or email the art gallery.

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If you want to be a writer—you need to start writing.

Today we are thrilled to be talking to Nick Black. Nick is 12 and has already finished writing his first novel. He’s here to tell us a bit about his book and to share his writing tips.

"Nick's pet rabbit. Do you think he might have a role in the novel?"

Nick's pet rabbit. Do you think he might have a role in the novel?

How long have you been writing, Nick?

Since I was six.

Can you tell us something about your novel?

It’s a comedy adventure about a boy whose entire family is evil but he doesn’t discover that till his thirteenth birthday. He fights against what his family has planned for him.

How long did it take you to write the novel?

About 6 months.

Did you write in pen on paper or did you use a computer?

I used a computer, but I did the plotting in pen.

When do you write?

It is hard to fit in writing time. I write after school on Mondays and Thursdays.

You’ve started editing the novel—have you changed much of the book?

I’ve kept the basic storyline, but I’ve taken out unnecessary bits and put in more detail and depth. I’ve also developed the characters more.

How do you get your ideas for stories?

Usually the story comes into my head first—wondering what it would be like if this happens.

What sort of books do you like to read?

Comedy, adventure like Artemis Fowl and Grim and Grimmer.

Do you have any tips for other kids who want to start writing?

Plotting really helps. Plot out your story before you start writing because otherwise you get halfway through and think what am I going to do now? And you have to set aside times to write, otherwise you don’t get it done.

What’s next for you?

To finish editing my book and get it published.

Thanks for talking to us about your novel, Nick. Writing a novel is a huge achievement! I’m looking forward to reading yours when it’s published. Setting aside time to write is an important tip for any writer—do any of you have set times for writing, or do you try to squash it in between everything else that’s going on?

© July 2011 “Interview with Nick Black” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)

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