Gabriel EvansIt’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Gabriel Evans. He has illustrated over twenty books and designed over a hundred greeting cards, painted large gallery artwork, and travelled across Australia presenting illustration workshops and seminars in schools and festivals.

Here are some of the books he’s illustrated:

Last week Sue Whiting asked:
What would you do differently in terms of the development of your career as an illustrator if you had your time over again?

Gabriel answers:
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Sue during her time at Walker Books.

If I was to have my time again I would definitely experiment more with my art. I was always trying to make perfect, beautiful pictures that limited my experimentation.

It’s only in recent years I take enormous pleasure and satisfaction from making risks and discovering new, creative systems. That means using BIG brushes, spray bottles, palette knives, goose feathers, cardboard, fingers, sticks and anything else I can think of.

It’s all about learning through creative, messy fun!

Find out more about Gabriel Evans and his books and art — visit his website!

Meet MarlyAnd now Gabriel passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Alice Pung. Alice writes books for a range of ages. You might have read her Marly books from the Our Australian Girl series.

Gabriel asks:
“You’re both a solicitor and author. How do you balance these two jobs? Is there a connection between the two?”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. 

See you next week!

To the lighthouse (book cover)REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

To the Lighthouse by Cristy Burne,
ill. Amanda Burnett, 
Fremantle Press,
ISBN 9781925164619

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

Isaac and Emmy are two very different kids. They meet on Rottnest Island when their families are on holiday. Isaac is a shy, nervous boy, but Emmy is an extravagant daredevil. Emmy wants Isaac to begin a game of Dare — involving jumping into icy cold water, riding all the way to the lighthouse, and riding there at night by themselves. It’s dark, and it’s miles and miles away. Isaac’s Mum is very overprotective and she worries a lot. Luckily she doesn’t know they’re planning to go to the lighthouse at night …

It’s great to read a book that is set in WA, instead of the usual places in kids’ books (like England or Sydney). The illustrations are in black and white and appear about once in every chapter. They suit the story — they’re a bit quirky, like the characters in the book.

To the Lighthouse would be a good book for 7 to 10 year olds.

Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. You can read Matilda’s other reviews here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Sue WhitingEarlier this year Alphabet Soup started a series called Pass the Book Baton. Every week we featured a book creator who answered one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It was kind of like a book relay in slow motion.) Our book creators took a break for the school holidays but we are pleased to announce … Pass the Book Baton is BACK!

You might remember that we left Kelly Canby with the book baton in March. (She’ll be feeling quite tired by now.) Today she finally passes the baton to Sue Whiting.

Sue Whiting lives and works in a coastal village south of Sydney. She is an editor and an author and writes books for a range of ages, from picture books through to books for young adults. Her latest book is Platypus, illustrated by Mark Jackson.

Here are just some of Sue Whiting’s books:

Back in March, Kelly Canby asked:
When you’re in the planning stage of a new book, do you prefer to work in a quiet space where it’s just you and your thoughts or do you head out to cafes and parks where you’re surrounded by outside sources of inspiration — people/colour/activity — to help develop your ideas?

Sue Whiting answers:
Thanks for this great question, Kelly.
The planning stages of a new book fill me with great excitement. There are just so many possibilities! In fact, anything is possible. And I love that.
I usually think about a new book idea for many, many months, letting it simmer away, slowly developing like a good stock. During this time, I might also do some research,  collect other ideas, try to make connections and get to know potential characters. And I do a lot of walking. Alone. Letting my characters chat away in my head while I eavesdrop on them! Then I hit the drawing board.
I am lucky enough to have a drawing board that belonged to my son when he was studying engineering. When he flew the coup and left it behind, I quickly claimed it. It is my favourite place. I peg on large sheets of paper, grab a pencil and let all those bubbling thoughts spill out onto the paper. It’s the ultimate brainstorm. I ask myself questions and write numerous answers. I challenge myself to think outside the square, to think of unlikely scenarios and elements. Eventually, after many days of scribbling and scribbling, I start to circle the ideas that have the most appeal and seek out further connections. Gradually, elements of plot and story, character and setting start to emerge, and that’s when I begin wrestling the best ideas into some sort of order and to work out what it is that this story is actually about.
All of this is done in my writing studio, in absolute silence. I need to be totally alone with my thoughts in order to release them and see where they take me. Sometimes, good ideas are very shy and need quite a bit of coaxing to emerge and even background music can be enough to make them hide away!
Once I am about halfway through my first draft and have a clear idea of where I am heading, I can write just about anywhere — on the train, in a
café, on the sofa with the TV blaring!
That all sounds quite nutty! But what can I say? You have to be a little nuts to be a writer, don’t you?

And now Sue Whiting passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Gabriel Evans. Gabriel is an Australian illustrator of more than 20 books. 

Sue asks:
I have had the privilege of working with Gabriel (as an editor) and have been a big fan of his work for a number of years. It has been great to watch his career develop, going from strength to strength. So my question is: What would you do differently in terms of the development of your career as an illustrator if you had your time over again?
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
See you next week!




Magic Fish Dreaming (book cover)REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins,
ill. Helene Magisson, Gumbootspearlz Press, ISBN 9780980731187

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

This book has poems mostly based around nature and families in the environment in Queensland. My favourite poem in the collection is called ‘Rain song,’ about the rain moving across the land and affecting banana towns, cassowaries, and fields of sugar cane. I liked the sense of movement.

The illustrations are floaty and dreamy (not bright and shabam!) and they suit the style of the poems. I really like the illustration for the poem ‘Tawny’ — you can almost feel the fluffiness of the bird.

The book is divided into two sections — ‘Hunting for Giggle Poems’, and ‘Magic Fish Dreaming’. I didn’t think that the poems’ themes in each of these sections really matched their section titles and so I thought it would have been more effective just to have the poems all in together, without dividing the book into sections.

This is a poetry book with a really Australian feel to it. I would recommend these poems to children ages 7 to 10.

Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. You can read all of Matilda’s reviews here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!


Jump image by Pexels.com









Oh the things you can do!
by Siddh, 7, QLD

Oh the things you can do,
Oh the things you can do,
You can skip, you can dive,
You can spy, you can fly,
You can jump, you can pump,
You can hike, you can strike,
So everybody has a special thing to do.
And that is the poem of the things you can do.

Siddh has had poetry published with us before. His first poem published at Alphabet Soup was called All about people. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!



by Kaia, 10, California, USA

Anger; the smell of smoke
Of flames, of still burning embers flickering in ashes
Of a fire, grasping for air out of the windows
A fire, taking everything down with it
A crackling log fire, slowly changing, forming into a destructive weapon
Anger smells burnt.
Burnt anything.

This is Kaia’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!

Welcome to Term 2 — we hope you had a wonderful break and you read lots of books! If you’ve read your way through your bedside pile and you’re desperate for something new to read … you’ve come to the right place. On the last day of every month our Top Reads team members* recommend books they’ve recently read and loved. Look for these books at your library, bookstore, or best friend’s bookshelf!

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 March Top Reads.

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