Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Albie, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Wombat, Mudlark & Other Stories

Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories by Helen MilroyREVIEWED BY ALBIE, 7, NSW

Wombat, Mudlark & Other Stories by Helen Milroy, Fremantle Press,
ISBN 9781925815818

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

The video below is approximately four minutes long. A text version of this book review is also provided if you scroll to the end of this post.

Albie (age 7) reviews Wombat Mudlark book, May 2019

Text version:

Hello, my name is Albie May and this is my review of Wombat, Mudlark & Other Stories by Helen Milroy.

This is my favourite line from the book – and by the way Helen Milroy is an Aboriginal Australian woman who works at the university in Perth and did study Medicine in university when she was in university and this is her first children’s book. This is my favourite line, as I said:

‘From fallen star to a lonely whale, from an entertaining lizard to an enterprising penguin, these stories are full of wonderful adventure and enduring friendships.’

Talking about illustrators – the illustrations in this book are wonderful. They help to create the whole book and I’m very … impressed with them.

My favourite story is ‘Gecko and Big Rock’ because it is a really lovely story about a really brave gecko that has a lot of friends, including Big Rock, and he has a lot of kindness and generosity in his heart.

I would like to show you this picture of Gecko [holds up book to show a black and white illustration of Gecko]. I think I’ll tell you a bit about the story. He … Gecko … is a really advention [adventurous] type and loves to tell stories about his adventures when he comes back, and all the other animals are getting kind of sick of it. So … and then the cold weather comes and they get frostbite on their toes when they’re walking outside and they have an idea to build a giant pile of rocks to pierce the clouds and someone … and Gecko … goes to collect the rocks and when he’s collected enough rocks, he goes back, climbs the gigantic mountain of rock, catches hold of the sky, pulls it down, and saves everybody from the extreme coldness.

And thank you for watching my book review of Wombat, Mudlark & Other Stories. Thank you.

Read a sample chapter from the publisher.

This is Albie’s second book review for Alphabet Soup. You can read her earlier review here. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines.

Posted in Recommended reading, Top Reads

Top Reads: June 2019

It’s the last day of the month, and that means it’s time for members of our Top Reads Team to recommend some good books (just in time for the school holidays!). Add these to your beside table …

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 book reviews, Book reviews by Hannah, Book reviews by kids

Book review: SICK BAY


Sick Bay by Nova WeetmanREVIEWED BY HANNAH, 12, QLD

Sick Bay by Nova Weetman, UQP,
ISBN 9780702260322

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

Meg uses the Sick Bay to hide from other kids. New girl Riley is a type 1 diabetic with an over-protective mother. They think they’ve worked each other out, but what if they’ve got it all wrong?

Sick Bay by Nova Weetman enfolds you into the world of Meg and Riley who are both working out and living through their own issues and yet somehow they are helping each other out even more.

Riley runs with the ‘popular’ clique. She’s well respected, praised even, although her peers don’t understand her diabetes. Her friends think that it’s something that they can just wish away or make fit into their life. Her mother is manic and controlling. Riley just wishes that she could be a normal teenager with a normal body, a normal mother and a normal life.

Meg is completely different. Her current best friend is a tattered, brown, paper bag that she keeps in her front pocket. She hides in sick bay to avoid other kids and PE. Her father died six months ago and ever since this tragic event, her life has changed dramatically. Meg wears slippers to school and begs for food from the office lady Sarah. There is a rumour going around about how poor she is.

They both meet in sick bay one day, and are oblivious as to how much their lives are going to change as a result.

Nova Weetman has kept the action moving and exciting while still managing to keep the storyline relaxing. She executed the emotions of the characters beautifully and I found myself siding with them and feeling their sorrow as well as their excitement.

I would recommend this book to ages 10 to 14. If you enjoyed The Endsister by Penni Russon or Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham, you are sure to love this one as well!

Hannah is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereIf YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Hannah, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Annabel, Again


Annabel, Again by Meg McKinlayAnnabel, Again by Meg McKinlay, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781925381542

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

‘Seven bags of pistachio nuts, twenty packets of flower bulbs, and every single book in the house, all 782.5 of them, in alphabetical order is what it takes.’

After her best friend Annabel moves to Queensland permanently Olivia sets off on a mission to ‘forget’ her. That is until she walks right back into class like it never happened after just one year. It’s Annabel, again, but this time … it’s a whole lot different!

Meg McKinlay, author of the award-winning A Single Stone, initially wrote this story in 2003. She believes that ‘language reflects the world’ so she made changes to address the advancement of technology over the years. Meg only wanted readers to focus on the heart of the story.

The book is written from the perspective of Olivia, showing her frustration over her once-best-friend Annabel, returning but now getting close to her once-enemy-Summer. This novel took quite a while to progress into the action. I felt myself neglecting to read it until I had reached the real core of the events, then I couldn’t put it down! I read most of the book in only one night (a new record for me!). I absolutely loved the way the emotions of Olivia were portrayed. I actually found myself feeling the energy of jealousy and resentment in favour of the main character. I wanted to jump into the book, be in the action, stand alongside the characters and resolve the conflict myself.

The whole storyline really is about such a simple yet understated aspect of life. As a tween, this type of thing isn’t new to me. People talking behind other’s backs, excluding friends and hating on people are all regular occurrences. To read about exactly this was quite thrilling and definitely entertaining!

I would recommend this book mostly to children aged 10 to 13 who like a quick read. It would also be great for holiday reading – which is coming up very soon!

Get excited for this new release of Annabel, Again.

Hannah is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereIf 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: I Would Dangle the Moon


I would dangle the moon by Amber MoffatI Would Dangle the Moon, written and illustrated by Amber Moffat, MidnightSun Publishing,
ISBN 9781925227529

Anishka received a review copy of this book.

I Would Dangle the Moon is written by Amber Moffat. A mother and daughter explore the moon and relate it to normal events in life. The daughter imagines she could keep the moon forever. Little things matter in this book. Every page is mysterious, for example, what would she do if she was a jeweler? The mother and daughter talk about what they would do with the moon if they were different people.

This book was a perfect blend of imagination and creativity. The pictures in this book are wonderfully illustrated for younger readers.

I think this book would be suitable for younger kids of ages 3 to 5, who have just started to build their imagination. It is a good bedtime story book that younger readers would prefer with their parents or grand parents.

This is Anishka’s first book review for Alphabet Soup, but you can read posts with her writing here. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. 

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Hannah, Book reviews by kids

Book review: One Careless Night


One Careless Night by Christina BoothOne Careless Night, written and illustrated by Christina Booth, Black Dog Books, ISBN 9781925381856

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

“They hunt, but they are also hunted. Carted away. Sold for bounty. And then, one careless night – the last thylacine is gone.”

This beautiful picture book portrays the story of the last known living thylacine. The thylacine has been an endangered species since the year 1936. It begins with the basic life of the featured young thylacine and her mother, listening to the whispers of the night and running to keep up with them. Hunting, playing, growing. They are living a normal life, that is until they become the hunted. She’s kept captive in an unknown forest, one of concrete and cold floors.

The illustrations in the book are absolutely stunning. They perfectly show the expression of pain and agony of the two thylacines, as well as the pure elegance and beauty of the wild and silent nights that they are sharing together. The writing of the book is also wonderful. It makes you feel like you’re right in the moment, running with the thylacines, amongst the mist of the mountains and the cold night air.

It is definitely a good book to read to older children, aged 10 to 12. It didn’t seem to be a book aimed at smaller children as the overall themes were quite dark and scary. I believe smaller children (aged 4 to 9) may find the book overwhelming, so I do not recommend the book for that age group.

Get excited for the release of One Careless Night, written and illustrated by Christina Booth, this month!

Hannah is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: My Coonawarra Farm Resort Camp Experience

My Coonawarra Farm Resort Camp Experience (May 2019)
by Jessie, 11, VIC

This was my first camp experience and I will never forget it!
The lead up to camp made me both excited and a little bit nervous. I got to buy some new items for camp, which was great and our teddies were also invited to come. I brought my pink bear, who wore her handmade colourful scarf and my friends brought their stuffed toys too.

It was a cold start to our first day, but only the adults noticed that. The kids were all too excited to care and just wanted to get on the bus and go. The weather soon warmed up and the bus trip there and back was heaps of fun and we stopped for lunch at a park. I was very lucky to get to sit with Sarah on the way up, who was my designated bus buddy and then on the way back I got to sit in the prestigious back row with Bianca, Milly and Emma. On the bus there was lots of talking, laughing and singing and on the way back many of the boys sang ‘Let It Go’, redefining how NOT to sing in tune and why not everyone should try to reach the high notes.

The camp I went to (Coonawarra Farm Resort) is located in East Gippsland on approximately 140 ha. It is surrounded by bush, with a huge lake and beautiful views and home to a variety of wildlife, including kangaroos.

Our rooms were terrific, warm and had bunk beds. I shared a room with Milly, Emma, Sarah, Jemima and Lila. We all took turns getting the top bunks, as they were the most sought-after location, with the best views. We had a lot of crazy fun in our rooms including singing, dancing and way too much laughing and not a lot of sleeping.

The food was great, all cooked and prepared for us and the only jobs the kids had to do was help with setting the tables. The only thing that I didn’t really like about camp was that I couldn’t get the shower water temperature as warm as I liked.

We got to do lots of activities such as red faces, trivia night, movie night, night walk, high ropes, hut building, rock climbing, damper making, visiting Den of Nargun, etc, but my favourites were horse riding, the flying fox and the big swing.

I got to go horse riding in a large group, luckily which included my friends Emma, Bianca and Sarah. My horse was called Buzz. He was white and patchy and was a really nice, calm horse. The only thing is that he did those things no one wants to talk about, as he walked along, not even trying to wait until he got back to the paddock.

The Big Swing, what a rush! The adrenaline you get just as you pull the rope was great. Your life flashes before your eyes. Then you just have to do it again and again. I chose the very top level both times, but I would have gone even higher if I could and I could have done it all day.

The Flying Fox was so much fun, though the hill we had to walk up to get there was very steep. The Flying Fox was very high, with incredible views and you could hear the air rushing past as you travelled along the line.

Archery was another of our activities. I didn’t find it that much fun, as the target just kept moving and the ground kept jumping in front of my arrow. I think Mrs Harvey had the same problem.

In groups we all had to attempt to make waterproof huts out of branches, logs, bark etc. Then the adults got to throw large buckets of water over the huts, drenching us. Mr Bennett seemed a little bit too happy doing this job. He had a big smile on his face seeing us all wet and listening to us scream. We then got to warm ourselves by the fire and make and eat damper. The damper had the best fruit in it, that made it especially yummy.

I will also give a special mention and thank you to Monty, who we met while building our huts. Only a small group of kids will know who I’m talking about, but he was very special to us and though only with us for a short time, he touched our lives, gave us a huge amount of laughter and will forever be in our hearts.

We also went on a trip to Den Of Nargun which was the best. I really enjoyed the aboriginal stories and the beautiful views on the way.

Overall I think this was a terrific camp.  I had the best fun, I got to have so many new experiences and I left with fantastic memories that will last a lifetime.


Jessie has had work published at Alphabet Soup previously. You can read her book review here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!