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FISHING
A first play by Gabriel, 6, NSW

Footprints in beach Sand (photo courtesy of pexels.com)[Setting: At the beach]

Dad: Let’s get fishing on the beach.

Josh: OK, Dad.

Gabe: OK, Dad. Dad, can I dig a channel from the water to the sand so the fish can swim in?

Dad: Yes, you can.

Gabe: Thank you. [Gabriel starts digging.] Dad, I caught no fish!

Dad: That means you need to make it longer, Gabe.

Gabe: OK. But I am tired and hungry.

Josh: Me too.

Dad: OK, let’s go home.

Gabe: But let’s keep on fishing for one more minute.

Josh and Dad : [sadly] OK

Gabe: I think you have got a fish, Dad.

Dad: Yes, I have. I will throw it back into the water.

Gabe: Dad, why did you throw it into my channel? But thank you, because it is mine now!

THE END


Gabriel is a regular contributer to Alphabet Soup. You can read some of his earlier work here. 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 RUN FOR THE CUP
by Lily, 11, QLD

Crack! The explosion of the official’s starter gun echoed through the air, as my heart began to pound against my chest. The quivering mount beneath me burst eagerly from the barrier gate, her sleek, black body stretching out and then springing back as firmly and powerfully as an elastic band. I could feel her energy through my seat, poised over her neck, her eagerness to demonstrate the power that lay within. I held her back, not wishing to burn out her energy, which would diminish our chance to win. She obeyed, though rather reluctantly. We were doing just fine, boxed in by a big bay stallion and a snorting black mare. As we pounded along, my thoughts drifted.

This was The Stakes, a horse race for younger thoroughbreds to earn a career in racing, by placing or winning and hopefully being snapped up by a buyer and spurred on to a bountiful racing year. I worked for a man who trained and raced thoroughbreds to sell as bigger, more successful (and hopefully more expensive), racers. He hadn’t had a whole lot of success lately, but the horse I was riding, Black Diamond, was bringing him hope. She was nearly two, and showed a lot of
potential as a champion racer. The black filly had so far won all her maiden races and my boss wanted to build up her value as well as her record. If she kept on the way she was going, she would be a very valuable and expensive broodmare by the time she retired. This was why it was so important to win.

I was angry at myself, I needed my thoughts on the race, not my boss. I was around the middle of the pack, and slowly making my way to the front. Then, we crossed the halfway point. I decided to keep Black Diamond where she was, gently slipping past the other jockeys. Her power was unfaltering, a sleek body stretching and gathering, stretching and gathering. Her strong, flexible hooves pounded and tore at the track’s turf, leaving great gashes in the soft green padding. Soon, we were coming in third, our focus on Don Primo, the great bay beast that had been dominating first place since the start.

As we galloped into the final leg, I knew it was time to go full out. I raised my legs and brought them down firmly into Black Diamond’s sides, as my whip slashed the air and I called, ‘HUP’. She responded eagerly, as if she had been waiting for this moment. Her nostrils flared and her neck stretched out, her thunderous hooves fell into rhythm with my heart — bu-doom, bu-doom, bu-doom. Black Diamond’s sweaty flank brushed past the tiring grey mare that had held second place. Her rider shook his head, recognising defeat.

Then, there was just Don Primo and his jockey to go. He would be harder to pass as we were still in position at the rail and the only way to overtake was to push
between Don Primo’s heaving side and the hard white barrier rail. I weighed up our chances. Black Diamond was beginning to tire and the gap was small. Most horses wouldn’t be able to do it, but Black Diamond wasn’t like most horses. She was smaller, craftier and had way more heart than any other racehorse I had
ever ridden. The worst that could happen was second place and that wasn’t bad at all. But it wasn’t first. I decided to try.

I let loose a little more rein and gathered Black Diamond’s strength. I leant even further over her neck and brought my legs down on her sides. I waved the whip through the air and spurred her on with my heels. That did it. She surged forwards and squeezed through the gap, my leg knocking against the jockey’s stirrup. We were neck and neck, with twenty metres to go, when Black Diamond somehow found her last surge of energy. We were a nose ahead when the unwavering duo crossed the line.

I pulled her up to a canter, then a trot, before a tired, but triumphant walk. I dismounted and suddenly caught sight of Arlo Donatelli, my boss. He was cheering wildly, tears of joy running down his cheeks, hugging all within reach. He was an elderly man in a suit, but with more strength and stamina than any other old man I know. His shocked and elated expression betrayed all his joy at our first big win in four years. That was when I realised we had won. I turned, stunned beyond words, to Black Diamond.

“We’ve won The Stakes, my lady!” I whispered joyfully.
The mare just snorted as if she had known all along what the outcome would be. All the same, she held her head high and began a prance rather than a walk as we made our way through the scattering of tired, panting horses and their rather glum jockeys. I spotted Don Primo and his jockey, Jack Dunn. Jack looked sulky and disappointed, and he glared at me as I led Black Diamond past. I didn’t mind, for nothing could mar the memory of the day when I, Tim McArthy, won The
Stakes.


This is Lily’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!

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 of 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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