Riddle Gully Secrets

Riddle Gully Secrets by Jen Banyard, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925163957

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

This is the third book in the Riddle Gully series about a girl called Pollo and a boy called Will. Pollo runs her own newspaper and she’s always looking for things to write about in her newspaper.

In this book Pollo and Will are searching for newspaper material but unfortunately the town is so boring at the moment nothing is happening that’s newspaper worthy. They think all is lost until they overhear a plot to steal treasure. Is the mayor involved in the plot too? Pollo and Will (along with Dan and Ash) want to find out more …

I like that Pollo has her own newspaper and solves mysteries, Riddle Gully Secrets reminds me a bit of the Encycopedia Brown books. Even though this is book 3 in the series, you don’t have to read the other Riddle Gully books to enjoy this one.

I would recommend this mystery book for readers 6 and older — especially if you like mystery stories.

[You can read a sample chapter of Riddle Gully Secrets on the Fremantle Press website.]

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


The Secret Island by Enid Blyton

Joseph reviewed his own copy of this book.

The Secret Island by Enid Blyton, Hachette Children’s Books, ISBN 9781444921106

This is an intriguing adventure story about four children from two farms who are all treated very badly. Together Mike, Peggy, Nora and Jack plan to escape to a secret island in the middle of a lake. They have to survive alone and be prepared if someone comes looking for them!

Some of the best aspects of the book are the description of the island, and when Jack goes to market. Enid Blyton really made me feel as if I was on the secret island drinking cool spring water. And when Jack went to market, I was always on my toes and thinking Jack might be caught.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I love adventure books where basic survival is needed. I would recommend this book to readers who love an adventure book where you want to turn every page! It would be suitable for children aged 8 and over.

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

by Shreya, 12, MN, USA

The brown and black fur
Little nose twitching
Ears moving to every noise
The beauty of the animal is in plain sight

Dashing through the woods
Sneaky as a snake
Army crawling under fences
Hoping not to be ate

Dashing at each other
One jumps up
So close to crashing
Over and over they play

Lying in my backyard
Eating the grass
Acting very lazy
Like a sloth in a bath

Hoping not to be eaten
Playing again and again
Acting very lazy
A rabbit is that

This is Shreya’s first poem published with Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!

We’re halfway through the year, and there are still so many books to read!

It’s also the last day of the month, and you know what that means … it’s time for our Top Reads team members* to share their favourite reads. Below are their top reads for June:

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you missed last month’s, don’t forget to check out the May Top Reads.

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

Oliver Phommavanh

Today we welcome Oliver Phommavanh as a guest on Alphabet Soup — he’s on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of his latest book The Other Christy.

Oliver’s books make us laugh, do you recognise some of these?

And now — over to Oliver Phommavanh!

Hey creative writers out there!

Kids always ask me, how do you make something funny? Normally I would reply by saying anything can be funny. But what if I replied by throwing a cream pie in their faces or if I screamed like a cockatoo who’s just woken up from a nightmare (which is like all the time, have you seen their hair?)? Then that might be funny. Okay, scary for the kids, but I’m laughing.

You see, a good place to start is to think about what’s the opposite of normal, or something unexpected. A lot of funny stuff comes when it’s a surprise and it’s least expected. Do you expect a T-Rex to moo like a cow? Of course not (I hope). But that’s what’s going to surprise the reader and hopefully make them laugh.

The Other ChristyIn my latest book, The Other Christy, Christy is a shy girl who loves to bake. And she’s being pushed around by another girl named Christie, who is a real meanie. Whenever it’s Christie’s birthday, she brings in a cake to the class and Christy is always left out. So when Christy decides to bake a delicious triple-choc cheesecake for her own birthday to share with her class, what do you think she’ll do? Maybe Christy won’t let Christie have a slice. Maybe Christy will give her a poisonous cake, or even worse, give her a bowl of fruit salad instead.

But Christy does something unexpected. The total opposite of normal. She decides to give Christie a slice, which surprises Christie and it’s the start of a strange friendship.

Anybody can come up with some opposites. Think about jobs, like a butcher who’s vegetarian. A doctor who’s afraid of blood. Have a go with thinking about what opposites these jobs might have:

A hairdresser

A teacher

A knight

We can find opposites with animals or things too. Think about a lion, what are they normally known for? Being brave? Being vicious? What is something unexpected that a lion could have?

So next time you are stuck with making up a funny character, start with someone or something ‘normal’ and flip it around with something unexpected, the opposite of what they could be. Then maybe if you see me, you might throw a cream pie at my face. I’ll be ready though, with my spoon in my pocket. Happy writing!

This isn’t the first time Oliver has visited us, make sure you check out his earlier posts: ‘Three Quick Questions’, and ‘Meet the Author’.

You can find out more about Oliver Phommavanh and his books on his website. This post was one stop on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of THE OTHER CHRISTY — published in June 2016.



Matilda reviewed her own copy of this book.

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, Yearling Books, ISBN 9780385389617

Twig is a young girl with a huge family secret. When an ancient relative of the late Agnes Early moves into the house next door, Twig is forbidden to go there. Can Julia, Twig and Agate help to break a curse?

I love the name Twig, and this was the best book I’ve read this year. Nightbird is a fantasy novel — and I really liked that it was a story that could happen in real life with a few magical tweaks.

If you enjoyed Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars, this is the sort of book you’ll enjoy. (And if you haven’t read Molly and Pim, you should read that too!)

I recommend this book for children ages 7 and up.

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


by Odette, 11, QLD


In the faulty shade of the parched oak tree

There’s a bare old branch for you and me.

Many before us had a place to be,

And we’d all sit by and watch the sea.


Long of limb, leaning over the wake,

Serene in the wind, where the sea meets the lake,

A witness of the water; it watches the waves break,

In Autumn subdued; summer monsoonal storms put it at stake.


Safe from the storm, each branch waxes nimble,

While the sea dwellers mingle in the shingle,

The culvert of the trunk where the leaf litter hide are

wrangled by the gale and the current and the tide,

And brings rolling forth from somewhere adrift,

the mighty hull of a wallowing ship.

This is Odette’s first poem published with Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!


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