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BOOK REVIEWED BY KAILANI, 11, QLD

The Spectacular Spencer Gray by Deb Fitzpatrick

The Spectacular Spencer Gray by Deb Fitzpatrick, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925164671

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

Spencer Gray is just an ordinary kid, he lives in a family of four, goes to school at his local high school, hangs out with his mates and plays football at break time. But one day, while retrieving a football from the bush behind the oval he sees a man run off, almost like he had been disturbed and then the sound of a motorbike. Spencer is suspicious so he decides to figure out what is going on.

From that day on, Spencer’s life changes — secret rescue missions, midnight bike rides and dangerous situations. All to save one of Australia’s most endangered marsupials.

I don’t normally read books with strong male characters, but this book was different. It combined the element of adventure with the Australian bush and caring for animals and nature. I also really liked the vivid description that the author used in the book, it really painted a picture in my mind of every scene, helped to build the tension and made me want to read on.

I recommend this book for boys and girls aged 10–14, especially if you enjoy mystery, adventure and looking after Australian wildlife.

[You can read a sample chapter from the book via the publisher.]

We are pleased to welcome Kailani back as a reviewer at Alphabet Soup. Check out Kailani’s earlier reviews here. Kailani also has her own blog!

If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading …

 


The Amazing Spencer Gray (cover)Read a review the first book in the series — The Amazing Spencer Gray — in a post from 2013.

 

 

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PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

It’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 best-selling author Katrina Germein. Katrina lives in Adelaide with her family and her dog, Mango. Her first picture book (Big Rain Coming, illustated by Brownyn Bancroft) has been in print since 1999. Her latest picture book is Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! illustrated by Janine Dawson.

Here are just some of Katrina’s books:

Last week Raewyn Caisley asked:
You write about so many different things: footy, remote communities, beaches, funny dads … I even read that you want to write about mermaids! Is there something that all your books have in common?


Katrina Germein signing booksKatrina replies:
Good question, Raewyn. I don’t set out to write about particular topics but some themes are quite common in my stories. The natural environment and the beach come up a lot, as do dogs and family. They must all be important to me. I’d like to write about a mermaid because I love the sea. (I’ve been trying to write that story for a long time but I can’t quite get it right!)

My new book Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! is inspired by my two sons. I’m influenced by people and things that I Iove. So perhaps love is the thing that all of my books have in common.

For more about Katrina Germein and her books, check out her website: katrinagermein.com


The elephant (cover) by Peter Carnavas.And now Katrina Germein passes the baton to the next visitor — Peter Carnavas, an award-winning author-illustrator. His latest book is a novel, The Elephant.

Katrina asks:
“Hi Peter,
Sometimes you write, sometimes you illustrate and sometimes you write and illustrate. What’s the hardest thing about being so talented?”
..
Pass the book baton is taking a break for the Australian school holidays. The interview series will resume in August.
 ..
In the meantime, you can read all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series!

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Hurrah for school holidays! Here we are at the end of June, and that means it’s time for our Top Reads Team* to recommend books for your holiday reading stack. These titles come highly rated:

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!

One Thousand TreesREVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

One Thousand Trees,
by Kyle Hughes-Odgers,
Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925164725

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

This is about living the city with polluted air, and how Frankie wishes there were trees. And then Frankie starts to imagine …

I’ve seen some of Kyle Hughes-Odgers artwork before, in Ten Tiny Things (written by Meg McKinlay), and also on walls and murals around Perth.

One Thousand Trees is reflective and shows you what happens in Frankie’s head as Frankie imagines a forest of trees. The story is told mostly through the illustrations, with not many words, and the words that are there are mostly prepositions. I like the shapes used for the trees and leaves, and the range of greens in the forest pages. (At the beginning of the book you see mostly greys and dark colours). The endpapers are good to look at — they change from the front of the book to the ones at the back of the book because of the story.

This picture book would suit children who live in the city, and kids who would like more trees in their environment. This book suits ages 4 to 8.


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!

PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

It’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 Raewyn Caisley. Raewyn was born and grew up in New Zealand, and has spent more than half her life in Australia. She’s lived in a number of Australian cities, and also lived for a year in the outback. Her most recent book is Something Wonderful, illustrated by Karen Blair.

Here are just some of Raewyn’s books:

Last week Bren MacDibble asked:
Looking at your recent picture books, I immediately get a sense of place, not just anywhere but of Western Australia or of New Zealand. Most of the scene setting is done by an illustrator in a picture book, but do you consciously try to contribute towards building a sense of place with your prose? And how do you do that?


Raewyn answers:
Raewyn Caisley (photo)Actually, most of the scene setting is done by the author first, even in a picture book. You just don’t notice it! When Karen Blair did the pictures for Hello From Nowhere she had never even been to the Nullarbor so I guess my words must have somehow taken her there.

The trick is allowing the reader to see the place through the eyes of the characters, and if the writer includes their own real feelings about the place, well then it will be just like being there.

Another clever trick is incorporating the five senses. How does it smell? What can you hear? What can you see? Touch something and think about how that thing makes you feel … Again, though, you have to do it in a very real way. A lot of kids like to say ‘You could smell his fear’ but I’m not sure you can really smell fear. You shouldn’t go through the senses like they’re a shopping list either! Just put a smell in here, a sound in there … Do it in a way that feels natural.

The best compliment you can ever give someone who writes about place is, you took me there. I hope that’s how people feel when they’ve read one of my books.

For more about Raewyn Caisley and her books, check out her website: www.raewyncaisley.com

 


Great Goal Marvellous MarkAnd now Raewyn passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Katrina Germein. Katrina’s latest book is Great Goal! Marvellous Mark! illustrated by Janine Dawson.

Raewyn asks:
“You write about so many different things; footy, remote communities, beaches, funny dads … I even read that you want to write about mermaids! Is there something that all your books have in common?

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

See you next week!

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THE LIFE OF A 50 CENT PIECE
by Olive, 10, QLD

couch by pexels.comDull. Boring. Dark. Is how my life is.

“Why?” you may ask. Because I am a 50 cent piece stuck behind the couch and that was all my life was — dull, dark, boring. Until one day.

“Mum!” I heard Belle scream. (Now remember Belle, it will come in handy later on. Belle was my owner before I was lost behind the couch.)

“She is coming, Belle!” shouted Belle’s mum. “Lucy will be here soon.”  I was so glad when I heard this because whenever Lucy comes over so does her brother, Ben. He loves to sneak off and look under and behind the couch where he finds me. Ben is my hero.

Lucy is Belle’s BFF — so Ben is always over — so I am never lost for too long.

DING DONG, the doorbell rings … only seconds until I am saved!

“Where is Ben?” I hear Belle’s Mum ask. Fear prickles down my metal edges.

“Sick,” replies Lucy’s Mum.

Thoughts flow into my tiny metal skull. ‘Will I be behind this couch forever?’ Just the thought of it makes me spin.

There is a scream then a loud SMASH right next to me

Then I see her, the love of my life, roll out from under the couch — 20 cent piece. We have two children, their names are 5 cent piece and her brother 10 cent piece.

 

Years have gone by now and I am growing old and rusty — but don’t weep for me, because I am just a 50 cent piece, a slab of metal. I will never die, for I am metal.

It is now time to say ‘Good day.’


This is Olive’s first story published at 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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a forest photo by pexels.com

Forest
by Kaia, 10, USA

Among the vast trees sees

Lie secrets that shall never leak peek

No human shall ever find confined

The birds can only feel conceal

The hush of the forest purest

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Kaia has been published with Alphabet Soup previously. You can read her earlier piece: ‘Anger’. 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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