Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Hannah, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Wreckers’ Revenge


TThe Wreckers' Revenge by Norman Jorgensen (book cover)he Wreckers’ Revenge by Norman Jorgensen, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925815450

Hannah received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

The Wreckers’ Revenge, by Norman Jorgensen, is a sequel to the very successful first book in the series The Smuggler’s Curse. The Wreckers Revenge was inspired by two boys from the Cocos Islands who, after hearing one of Jorgensen’s stories, attempted to find William Dampier’s missing treasure. It is not necessary to have read the first book to thoroughly enjoy The Wreckers Revenge, which is set in the early 20th century, beginning with the anticipation of whether Red Read (the main character) is to be expelled from Christian Brothers College. After a series of crazy events – involving the nasty acts of Brother Christian – the infamous Captain Black Bowen, Red’s Guardian, comes to change the day, whisking young Red off to once more become a loyal crew member of the mighty Black Dragon. But don’t get too comfortable on this ship as there is nothing but action and adventure to be had on these decks.

In my opinion, I thought that the book moved at a manageable pace for a wide range of readers and it wasn’t over-complicated. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters as the story developed and it was interesting as each character had their own lovable and different features. Every sentence had a drip of anticipation and I really did find it quite hard to put the book down.

It would be a perfect holiday read and even a great book for adults to read to children as well. I recommend this book to 10–13 year olds as there is quite a lot of violence in it and I believe that these ages would be able to manage that.

In conclusion, it’s a really great book and is worth checking out.

Read a sample chapter of The Wreckers’ Revenge at the publisher’s website.

Download Teachers’ notes for this book from the publisher’s website.

Hannah is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Box Car Racers

Box Car Racers by Meredith Costain and illustrated by Danielle McDonaldREVIEWED BY MIA, 8,

Olivia’s Secret Scribbles: Box Car Racers
by Meredith Costain,

ill. Danielle McDonald,
Scholastic Australia,

ISBN 9781760660031

Box Car Racers is part of the Olivia’s Secret Scribbles series. These books are fiction, written by Meredith Costain and illustrated by Danielle McDonald. This book and series would suit girls between 6-9 who like inventions, experiments and competitions.

Box Car Racers is now my new favourite book, written like a journal, full of special private secrets. The book is filled with drawings that make it so easy to imagine, as if you were there and a part of it.

This story is about Olivia, who is a nice girl who likes to win, but values her friend’s happiness more. This book is about school, recycle week, box car races, the magic of silver stripes, friendships, secrets under the table, older sisters, planes, bat cars, puppet shows, and unicorn carriages, crashes, GLITTER AND MORE GLITTER and so much more.

I love this series because Olivia likes a lot of the things that I do and I have also built and raced a box car:

I read this book from start to finish in one night and I want to read it again tomorrow.

I give this book and all the illustrations 5 plus plus stars.

You can read another book review by Mia here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Mamie

by Liora, 9, Manhattan, USA

This woman is nice
This woman is respectful
This woman likes rice
This woman is grateful

This woman is funny
This woman is fancy
This woman is as sweet as honey
This woman likes coffee

This woman likes children
This woman gives to the poor
This woman eats lemon
This woman likes to bring me to the store

This woman is my grandmother
This woman has two brothers
I hope she likes to sip coffee in a cafe
Wishing her a very happy Mother’s Day!Photo of coffee and flowers by Ylanite Koppens via

You can read more of Liora’s poetry here. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines.


Posted in National Simultaneous Storytime

Cawdor Primary School with Maracas

Last week Year 6 students at Cawdor Public School (NSW) staged a dramatic telling of the 2019 National Simultaneous Storytime book – Alpacas with Maracas by Matt Cosgrove. We hear their performance was so good they had to do an encore!

Cawdor Primary School students perform for NSS 2019
Cawdor Primary School students in costume for NSS 2019 (Alpacas with Maracas)

National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is an annual event run by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously by children all over the country.

Well done to Cawdor’s fabulous performers!

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Warmth of my Life

by Anishka, 9, QLD

I know you do the washing up every night.
And clean up all my mess.
You always make us happy,
And still find time to stress.

Thank you for your hugs,
And teaching me how to keep in touch
Even though I never thanked you
I love you very much.

You are so hardworking
Today it’s your special day
We’ll give you whatever you want
On the twelfth of glorious May

I’ll answer all your work emails
And order 50 pizzas from the pizza store
Because I know you like them
I also know you like little cute boars.

You’re the one special mother
Who gets all these gifts from me
Because I am thankful
I might make you some tea.

The tulips in our garden
Do not grow without sunlight
You are their sunshine,
Without you it would be always night.

The honey in the bees’ hive
Wouldn’t be there without you,
For you, gave them loads of flowers
And  a nice sunny area too.

You might be a university student,
Or work for a company of book covers
But there is something you will always be
My happy, loving mother.

One more word for you mum,
There goes another Mother’s day
But remember one thing
I will always love you in every way.

A garden bed of multicoloured tulips.


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. You can read her earlier work here.

Posted in authors

Meet the author: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Today we are very pleased to welcome Teena Raffa-Mulligan to Alphabet Soup. Teena’s publications for children include poems, short stories, picture books, chapter books and middle grade novels. She has also worked as a journalist and editor. Teena’s latest publication is a picture book called When the Moon is a Smile (illustrated by Amy Calautti). This is a gentle story about a small girl spending time with her dad, who no longer lives with them.

When was your first piece of writing published?
A long time ago! I was a member of an ABC radio club for kids called The Argonauts and I had a poem read during one of their sessions. That gave me the confidence to send it to the children’s page of the Sunday Times newspaper, where it was published. I’m not sure of the exact year, but I think it was maybe 1964. About 10 years later I had my first two children’s stories accepted and they appeared in Woman’s Day magazine.

You write poetry, picture books and novels – how do you know which format will be best when you have a story in your head?
Good question, Rebecca. Usually the story ‘tells’ me and I go along with that. However, sometimes I’ll write what I think is a picture book but then I can’t find a publisher. So I make a few changes and submit them as poems or short stories to magazines and anthologies – usually successfully. Interestingly, my children’s novel Mad Dad for Sale began as a picture book that I couldn’t sell. Catnapped and Getting Rid of Wrinkles also began as picture books.

Your latest book – When the Moon is a Smile – is a picture book. How do you go about writing a picture book once you have the story idea?
I scribble random sentences and paragraphs from anywhere in the story on scrap paper as they pop into my mind. Then I get a clean sheet of paper and divide it roughly into page spreads so I can work out how the book might work. When I finally sit down at the computer, it’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I put all the bits and pieces in the right order and play around with them until everything feels like it’s in the right place.

Drafts of When the Moon is a Smile, a pile of paper with scribbled notes.
Teena’s drafts of When the Moon is a Smile.

Do you have a tip for young writers wanting to write a picture book?
Writing stories is fun. You get to create characters, put them in weird and wonderful situations and then decide what happens next. Don’t worry about whether what you’re writing is an amazing story. Just play with the words. Let one follow another and see where they take you. It’s an adventure.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on a novel called Talibut Vish. It’s about a kid who hires a parent tamer because he’s had enough of trying to sort out his problem parents. At first Mike thinks he’s found the solution to his dilemma. But when Vish becomes less of a friend and more of a threat, Mike realises he has a bigger problem than misbehaving parents. It’s a fun story to write but because I don’t really know what’s going to happen from one chapter to the next, it’s taking me a long time to get to The End. I’m 14 chapters in but I still have no idea how Mike is going to escape from Mr Vish, find his runaway parents and reclaim control of his life.

This interview is copyright May 2019

When the Moon is a Smile will be available from June 2019. Find out more about Teena Raffa-Mulligan and her books by visiting her website: