Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Matilda

Matilda by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin BlakeREVIEWED BY GIANNA, 10, VIC

Matilda, by Roald Dahl, ill. by Quentin Blake, Puffin Books, ISBN 9780141365466

Gianna reviewed her own copy of this book.

This book fascinates me. It is about a young girl whose parents think she is a twit. Mr and Mrs Wormwood are rare parents who don’t think about their child. Their child, Matilda, was an extraordinary child. She could easily recite the alphabet when she was only two. Matilda could spell words at the age of three and was able to read novels at the age of four.

Matilda got to know that she could move things with her eyes when she started going to school. Miss Honey, her teacher adores her. But Miss Trunchbull is furious when somebody speaks good about Matilda. Miss Honey and Matilda together face some difficulties.

To know about the happenings please read this famous book by Roald Dahl. This book is one of my favourites because it is an inspirational story that tells children that they should trust their abilities, fight back and face the challenges in their lives.

Read another book review by Gianna. 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: No one Likes a Fart


No one Likes a Fart by Zoë Foster Blake and Adam Nickel

No one Likes a Fart by Zoë Foster Blake, ill. by Adam Nickel, Penguin Australia, ISBN 9780143786603

The publisher provided a review copy of this book and a fart plushie.

Fart and Burp artwork by Charlie

Charlie says, “The best part is when Fart and Burp make friends”.

This is Charlie’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. 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 reviews by Kobe

Book review: 3D Explorer: Oceans

3D EXPLORER: OCEANS by Jen Green and illustrated by Laszlo VeresREVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

Oceans by Jen Green, illustrated by Laszlo Veres

Silver Dolphin, ISBN 9781684123346

Kobe reviewed her own copy of this book. 

Oceans is a very good book to read because it is filled with facts about the ocean, like we know more about the surface of the moon than the deep ocean.
It’s also full of fun pop-ups! Jen Green uses 3D see-through sections to make an illusion that it’s the surface of the water. She also includes layers upon layers of bits of the ocean habitat.
BUT be careful, please don’t rip or break her hard work! She probably spent a lot of time on it! TOP TIP: To not break it, you must open the book carefully and not quickly stretching the book.
My favourite part of the book is that she provides facts about the animals and plants she put in the scenes. After a fun pop-up, she includes facts about the environment they live in.
That’s why I encourage youth to read my recommended book of February. I’m sure you’d like this AMAZING book. If you like it you should introduce it to your friends!

Kobe is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereTo send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!
Posted in Top Reads

Top reads: February 2020

Welcome to the FIRST Top Reads post for 2020! Every month – from February to November – members of our Top Reads team* recommend their favourite reads for the month. All members of our Top Reads team are kids under 13 and they love to read! Check out February’s recommended reads:

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!

Posted in Top Reads

Introducing the 2020 Top Reads Team

Stack of books with one book on the top open and the pages in a fan. Image courtesy

We’re thrilled to introduce you to the 2020 Top Reads team.

What is the Top Reads team? Members of this team are keen readers who stop by each month to recommend a favourite read for the month, and they’re all kids like you!


Henry, 6, WA
Henry is six years old. He lives in the Great Southern with his two sisters. He loves to read humorous books and ones which are about Pokémon. He loves to play soccer and have Bey Blade battles with his friends, and when he is allowed, he also likes Dragon City which is a computer game. His favourite subject is Maths, food is strawberry ice cream and his favourite BeyBlade is Valtryek.

Kobe, 9, WA
Kobe is a talented girl who loves art and writing. Her favourite books are Snoopy books.

Willow, 8, NT 
Willow is a non stop action packed Territory kid who loves to play hard. When she is not running around, swimming, dancing, singing and drawing, she loves to read. Her favourite books are ones full action! She also loves books that make her laugh.

Lewis, 11, WA 
Lewis loves reading, particularly entertaining/funny books and adventure stories. When he isn’t reading he loves music, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lego, scooting, fishing, kayaking, and playing with his younger brother.

Matilda, 11.5, NT 
Matilda loves fiction, fantasy & mystery books. Her favourite book series are Harry Potter, The Ink Series, and The School for Good & Evil. She enjoys all school subjects as well as netball, swimming & dance. She also loves art & being creative.

Céití, 10, WA 
Céití loves spending time with her chocolate labrador Flynn. She enjoys all sorts of reading and writing, playing her violin, cooking and playing water polo. Her favourite book for 2019 was Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo.

Anishka, 9, QLD 
Anishka loves writing poems and reading books. She started composing her own poems when she was 4 years old. She is  involved in raising funds for Heart Research and Foundation through ‘Jump Rope for Heart’. She is also involved in a meditation group in the community.

Fergus, 10, WA
Fergus loves to play Lego with his brother, ride his bike, game, code, play with his dog and read. His favourite genres are action, adventure and magic. He has three favourite series: Ranger’s Apprentice, Brotherband and Harry Potter.

Albie May, 8, NSW 
Albie May loves comics including Asterix and Amulet. She also loves old leather-bound books with mouldy pages (that she barely ever reads). She loves reading funny jokes out loud from Untangling Spaghetti by Steven Herrick.

Rory, 8, WA 
Rory loves to spend his day playing Lego, reading, coding and riding his scooter. His favourite authors are JK Rowling, Sally Rippin, Andy Griffiths and Jack Heath. His best place to read is in his bunk bed. When he grows up, he wants to be an archaeologist.

The Top Reads Team will share reading recommendations from February through until November.

Posted in authors, illustrator, interviews

Meet the author: Gabrielle Wang

Gabrielle Wang, photo by Daniel Mahon
Gabrielle Wang


Gabrielle Wang writes and illustrates picture books and novels. Her award-winning novel A Ghost in My Suitcase was adapted as a play. Gabrielle’s latest novel is the sequel Ting Ting the Ghosthunter. From the publisher:

Thirteen-year-old Ting Ting has learned the ancient skills and art of ghost hunting from her adopted grandmother, Por Por, a famous ghost hunter. But Ting Ting is sick of capturing harmless ‘fat belly’ ghosts, and when a desperate plea for help comes for Por Por, Ting Ting decides to take matters into her own hands and prove that she is a true ghost hunter. But what Ting Ting discovers is much more dangerous than she had thought. Can Ting Ting conquer her own pride to save Por Por and the villagers before it’s too late?

Ting Ting the Ghosthunter is the sequel to A Ghost in my Suitcase. Do you find anything different about writing a sequel than a standalone story?
I found it much easier and quicker to write the sequel as I already knew my characters and the world they inhabited. However Ting Ting the Ghosthunter did differ from most traditional sequels because I used a different protagonist. Instead of following the adventures of Celeste, the main character from A Ghost in My Suitcase, I used Ting Ting who was the antagonist in that first novel.

A Ghost in my Suitcase has been adapted for the stage and performed around Australia. Did seeing those performances influence how you wrote the character of Ting Ting in the sequel?
I wrote Ting Ting the Ghosthunter before I saw the play. But the inspiration to write this sequel did come out of the very first meeting I had with Barking Gecko, the Western Australian theatre company who adapted the novel for the stage. It was during these two days of creative development with the creative directors, the playwright and the set designer that I realised how strong a character Ting Ting was. She had a lot of issues to work through which is, as you probably know, perfect for any main character.

There’s a strong sense of place in these two books. Do you visit a place before you set a book there?
Setting is the first thing I consider when I begin a novel. I’m a highly visual person so as I write, I imagine the landscape my characters are living in. In fact for me, setting is a major character in all of my books. A place can be dark and brooding, angry, joyful or sad. It can be a perfect vehicle to reflect your character’s mood. One of my favourite series as a child was My Friend Flicka, The Green Grass of Wyoming and Thunderhead written by Mary O’Hara. I loved reading books about horses. The setting in these novels was so strong to me, evoking in my young mind wide-open grasslands and endless summer days. The Silver Brumby has that same sense of place evoking the Australian mountains.

Now that you have me thinking on the subject of setting, listed below is where my novels take place.

The Garden of Empress Cassia in a suburban city. I had Melbourne in the forefront of my mind with this one. Even though I don’t name the city, trams rattle up and down the streets.

The Pearl of Tiger Bay in a seaside town. I pictured the coastal towns along the Great Ocean Road while I wrote it.

The Hidden Monastery in the rainforests of Queensland.

The Lion Drummer in Little Bourke Street Chinatown.

A Ghost in My Suitcase in Shanghai and in a watertown like Wuzhen, China.

The Poppy Stories in Wahgunyah, Beechworth and surrounding areas.

The Pearlie Stories in Darwin, Adelaide and Perth.

The Wishbird in the far northwest China.

The Beast of Hushing Wood in the woods of North America.

Ting Ting the Ghosthunter in Shanghai, and the countryside.

I need to visit these places so that I can get a sense of them. When I wrote the first draft of The Beast of Hushing Wood, my publisher Jane Godwin said that she didn’t get a true sense of the woods. That was because I had never been to the woods in North America. I knew then that I had to go. I needed to walk them, to listen and smell and look. I had to let them show me what to write.

Pen and paper? Or straight onto the computer?
I do a combination of both. Each novel dictates to me how it wants to be written.

Can you tell us something about your next project?
My current work in progress has the working title of The Story Magician. It is set in Melbourne during the 1950s and is about a 12-year-old girl called Sparrow and a dog called Jupiter. This will be part graphic novel, part fairytale, part first person narrative.

In writing and illustrating The Story Magician, I want to explore this post-war era of Australian history. It was an important time for Australia when people were finally looking towards a brighter future. All wars leave scars. What are the legacies of war? Is everything war leaves behind bad? What is the power of stories to help heal wounds? I also want to explore the different types of love — the love between parent and child, child and grandparent, between a dog and its human, between siblings, between best friends. And the unfulfilled love of a birth mother to her child.

I was lucky enough to receive an Australia Council Literature Grant to write The Story Magician. I have a long way to go and need to do a lot of experimenting, as this novel is more challenging than any of my other books. Still, I am enjoying the challenge. That’s what writing (and illustrating) is all about — breaking through our own self imposed boundaries and stretching our creativity.

Ting Ting the Ghost Hunter by Gabrielle WangAWESOME EXTRAS:

Click here to read a sample chapter of Ting Ting the Ghosthunter

Click here for Teachers’ Notes (PDF)

Read about the journey of A Ghost in My Suitcase from book to play

Our earlier interviews with Gabrielle Wang:

Find out more about Gabrielle Wang and her books on her website:

You’ll find Gabrielle Wang’s books in bookstores and libraries!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Geronimo Stilton Classic Tales The Secret Garden

Cover of Geronimo Stilton Classic Tales: The Secret Garden by Geronimo StiltonREVIEWED BY GIANNA, 10, VIC

Geronimo Stilton Classic Tales: The Secret Garden by Geronimo Stilton, Scholastic Inc,
ISBN 9780545872607

Gianna reviewed her own copy of this book.

This is a book full of mysteries: a girl whose parents had died. A mansion named Misselthwaite Manor. There are a hundred rooms in this mansion which are said to be locked. There are many gardens too. All of them are unlocked but one, which was the mistress’s favourite garden. But she had fallen from a branch while sitting, which had caused her death.

The girl makes a friend with whom she plays everyday in the many gardens. But soon, every night she hears a faint crying noise. The author very mysteriously finds the noise, where it comes from. Is it a ghost? A murderer who is crying every night so that someone comes, and he kills them? Or a boy? Read this mysterious book to find out.

This beautiful book by Geronimo Stilton consists of friendship, bravery and most of all trust and suspects.

This is Gianna’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!