Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: The Day at the Zoo

THE DAY AT THE ZOO
by Gabriel, 7, NSW

On Tuesday October 17th 2017, our family went to the Beijing Zoo. We went to the Beijing Zoo because it was for a home school excursion.

We saw beautiful swans and amazing ducks in a lake. There was a waterfall. Two birds were standing on the side.

Later, we saw the big bird cages. The birds were very very colourful and amazing, such as the flamingos. Other birds were blue, red or yellow. Next we saw parrots. There were ten cages. The parrots were green, white, red, blue and yellow. My sister’s favourite parrot is the eclectus parrot.

Before we saw snakes, we had lunch. We had burgers for lunch. Then we saw reptiles, like crocodiles, turtles and snakes. The zookeepers threw rats in the cages for food.

After that, we stared at the penguins. The thing that I did not like about the penguins’ cage was that they had fake ice! There were five penguins. The zookeepers showed us penguin bones in another place.

We walked over to the monkeys. They were swinging like crazy! We saw four golden monkeys and two black monkeys. The black monkeys were not swinging around but at the end they started to swing.

Later, we saw two chimpanzees. They were huge. One was eating some fruit and went to the other side to poo. That is smart not to poo where it eats.

Then we looked at the American animals. We saw sloths, tapirs and ostriches. The funny thing about the tapirs was that one tapir was weeing and smiling at the same time.

We also stared at the Australian animals. The kangaroos were eating lunch. One cassowary was resting and the other one was walking around.

We went over where we saw bears. We saw the Asiatic bear, black bear, brown bear and two polar bears. One polar bear was hitting the wall with its tummy. The other polar bear was pushing the wall with its bottom.

Next we saw thirty nocturnal animals. I can’t tell you all the names because there were too many. All the nocturnal animals that I saw eat fruit.

We saw African and Indian elephants. The African elephants have bigger ears than Indian elephants.

It was fun after seeing most of the animals. I want to go back to Beijing Zoo.


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!

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book baton: Sherryl Clark

PASS THE BOOK BATON logo

Sherryl ClarkIt’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 Sherryl Clark. Sherryl is an author and poet — with over 40 books published in Australia. 

You might recognise some of these!

Last week Yasmin Hamid asked:

I know you have travelled to many different countries, but do you find it difficult to write books that are set in an Australian landscape when in your mind you have the embedded landscapes and terrains of the New Zealand you grew up in?


Sherryl answers:

Farm kid by Sherryl Clark

I think it’s firstly the people from my childhood and teen years that are embedded! I often find myself using bits of them, or certain anecdotes (changed to fit my story, of course). But also I find I tend to write stories set in valleys, and in the country, probably more than writers who grew up in the city do.

It’s tricky because publishers often want city stories where most of their market of readers live. Whereas I think it’s good for city kids to read about living in the country. It’s one of the reasons I wrote Farm Kid, because the Australian drought in the 2000s was so devastating for farmers, but people in the city didn’t really understand what it meant.

I suspect the main effect, though, has been the urge to travel (common among Kiwis) which has led to me writing historical novels set in the USA, England and France. The lure of history and stories that can go back many centuries into the past.

Read more about Sherryl Clark, her picture books, novels and verse novels at her website: www.sherrylclark.com


Diary of a wombat by Jackie French and Bruce WhatleyAnd now Sherryl passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Jackie French. Jackie French was the 2014-2015 Australian Children’s Laureate, and has had more than 200 books published.

Sherryl asks:

What are your best or favourite research tools for your historical novels?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: Beach pollution

BEACH POLLUTION
Anishka, 7, QLD

The beach I used to go,
Always showed me fantastic show.
The fishes splashed, the dolphins dashed,
Nature is always at its best.
The days passed,
Now, it has all gone and faded.
No more ice-cream,
Not even a cone,
No more fishes,
Not even a dolphin.
Not anything to be seen,
Not anything to be so keen.
I think, we changed sea’s face,
And made this beach a mess.
It is now full of sea weed,
I picked it all for a good deed.

A hand stretched out to the sea. image courtesy pexels.com

 


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup — you can read all her earlier work here.

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: Ellie and the Secret Garden

ELLIE AND THE SECRET GARDEN
by Sophie, 6, VIC

One windy, cold night, Ellie was in her bed. She could not get to sleep. Just when she was getting to sleep, a big gust of wind came in through the window. She was so curious. She went to the door. She pushed the door open.

Just then, the wind carried Ellie away! The wind carried Ellie out of the door. It carried Ellie to the garden!

A green door hidden by ivy. Image courtesy pexels.comThen it stopped and put her down. Then it did the same again, but this time it didn’t carry Ellie away. Instead, it blew the ivy on the wall, and under the ivy, Ellie saw a door.

“Maybe it’s the secret garden.” Her mum had told her stories about it.

She tried to turn the handle. It was very stiff, but she could just turn it. The next second, she was in the secret garden.

When she got back into bed, it was morning.

Her mum and dad came in at 7:30am and said, “Time for breakfast.”

“Okay,” said Ellie, “but before that, I’m going to put on my school clothes.”

“Okay,” Ellie’s parents said.

Once Ellie got them on, she went down to the garden. She opened the door, then she shut the door behind her. Then she bobbed down and started clearing dead leaves and grass.

When she finished, she went inside and had her breakfast, then she went to school on the school bus. She told her friends about that garden, but they didn’t believe her. But her bestest friend knew that Ellie was telling the truth.

When it was home time, Sophie, which is Ellie’s best friend, asked her mum and Ellie’s mum if she could have a play at Ellie’s house. They said yes.

Sophie ran up to Ellie, but when Sophie saw Ellie, she was talking to some people and making new friends and asking them to be her best friends. It made Sophie feel sad.

When Ellie’s new friends had gone, Sophie went up to Ellie. She told Ellie how she felt. Then Ellie said to herself, ‘she is my best friend,’ then she stopped daydreaming, and said sorry to Sophie. Then Sophie told Ellie about the play. Ellie was so excited.

Sophie went in Ellie’s car. It was so fun. When they got to Ellie’s house, Ellie and Sophie went down to the garden.

She said, “Come with me, Sophie.” They tiptoed to the door. They opened the door, then they pushed the door shut. Sophie was amazed. There were roses everywhere. Sophie’s mouth dropped open when she saw them.

Ellie took Sophie away. She wanted to show Sophie lots more.

The End


This is Sophie’s first story for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Yasmin Hamid

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 Yasmin Hamid. 

Yasmin grew up in East Africa with her siblings, English mother and Sudanese father. She has been in the same book club group for almost twenty-five years.

Yasmin’s first children’s novel — Swimming on the Lawn — was published in 2017.

Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid

 

Last week Aśka asked:

To someone like me — who grew up among grey blocks of flats in Eastern Europe — your childhood sounds absolutely fearless. Was there ever anything that you were afraid of? How did you overcome that fear?


Yasmin answers:

Yasmin Hamid in a garden. Photo courtesy Fremantle Press.
Yasmin Hamid, author

This is a very interesting question. I don’t remember ever being afraid when I was a child. I think it was to do with the place where I lived at that particular time (open spaces, lots of freedom to roam the neighbourhood, climb trees and and be away from home for hours on end without supervision). There wasn’t any hint of stranger danger and there was rarely any interference from adults.

I remember doing things that involved an element of risk like climbing up onto our house roof and weighing up the possibility that if I jumped off and flapped my arms, whether I could fly a bit before I fell onto the strategically placed mattress! Needless to say, I always knew I couldn’t and would climb down again after spending time looking over the garden from a different perspective.
 .
Read a sample chapter from Swimming on the Lawn and download teachers’ notes.

And now Yasmin passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Sherryl Clark. Sherryl writes picture books, junior fiction, novels, verse novels, and books for young adults.

Yasmin Hamid asks:
I know you have travelled to many different countries, but do you find it difficult to write books that are set in an Australian landscape when in your mind you have the embedded landscapes and terrains of the New Zealand you grew up in?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Aśka

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 Aśka.

Aśka in a purple shirt pressing a big red NO button

Aśka is an illustrator and science communicator. She has a degree in Arts and Quantum Physics and works at Scitech in Perth — as well as working with kids’ product design, graphic novels, animation, graphic design and e-publishing. Phew!

Last week Sian Turner asked:

Wow! You have travelled to some amazingly diverse and interesting places, Aśka.

I understand that these experiences have been a rich source of inspiration for your art. Can you elaborate on some of your favourite travel destinations? How have you found that these places have influenced your creativity?


Aśka answers:

I’ve never really thought about how different places I’ve travelled to and lived in have influenced my work. It is an interesting thing to ponder.

I have had a go at studying different forms of art in different places. For example, when I was staying in Thailand I learned Chinese painting. It is an art form where no pencils are allowed, and there is no erasing or undoing what you have done. You make marks with a chunky paintbrush on the thin rice paper to create an image and if you make a mistake you need to start all over again! Even though I don’t paint so much anymore, I still find this practice very useful as it requires commitment and confidence when drawing, which I believe shows up in your work as an illustrator, no matter what technique you use.

But it’s not just learning local techniques which can change the way you draw. It’s also observation. Certainly every location looks different and this isn’t just in art, but in the most everyday situations. For example, the way a yoghurt aisle looks in the supermarket, or the image of the green and red person for pedestrians at traffic lights. It quickly becomes apparent that each place in the world uses images in a slightly different way. Like the cute and perfectly made mascots of uniformed woman and man in front of a Tokyo police station, to the playful and roughly hand painted shopfronts of Accra.

So through travel and seeing so many different ways in which people live, I started to think about how important these visual elements are when creating my own characters and settings.

After all, every new adventure we have, big or small, expands our way of seeing the details in our world a little more. And the details are where I believe the true magic of the world lies.

Check out Aśka’s website where you can find artwork, mini comics, download free ebooks, teachers’ notes and more! www.askaillustration.com/


Swimming on the lawn by Yasmin HamidAnd now Aśka passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Yasmin Hamid. Yasmin grew up in East Africa and now lives in Western Australia. Her book — Swimming on the Lawn — was published in 2017.

Aśka asks:

To someone like me, who grew up among grey blocks of flats in Eastern Europe, your childhood sounds absolutely fearless. Was there ever anything that you were afraid of? How did you overcome that fear?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

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Posted in Recommended reading, Top Reads

Top Reads: October 2017

It’s that time again — the last day of the month means book recommendations from our Top Reads team*. Look for these titles in your library, bookshop, or on your best friend’s bookshelves. Or add them to your Christmas wishlist …

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

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