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

Book review: Sister Heart

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

Sister heart (cover)

Sister Heart by Sally Morgan, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925163131

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Sister Heart is a book about Annie — an Aboriginal girl who is suddenly taken from her parents (part of the Stolen Generation). She’s taken to a government-run school where she meets Nancy, Janey, and Janey’s brother Tim. It’s a shock for Annie and she doesn’t feel like talking.

This is a verse novel told from Annie’s point of view and it’s about finding courage in a new place.

I knew a little bit about the Stolen Generation and this book deepened my understanding because it showed the emotions of the stolen children and how they coped. This is a serious and engaging read, it’s emotional and you feel everything that the characters feel.

I’d recommend this to readers aged 10 to 13.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, ISBN 9780439813785

Joseph borrowed a copy of this book from his local library.

Hugo is an orphan and his job is to check that all the clocks in the Paris station are the correct time. It was really his uncle’s job — Hugo can’t show his face to anyone official (like the station inspector) because then they’ll realise his uncle is gone and send Hugo to an orphanage. His uncle’s uncashed cheques are no good because Hugo can’t cash them. One day he finds an automaton his father was working on before he died. When his father’s notebook (the only thing Hugo has left to remind him of his father) is taken away, he relies on a girl called Isabel to get it back.

Will the automaton write him a message that will solve his problems?

This book has words and pictures. It’s a combination of graphic novel and a regular novel and it means you are satisfied that you read about 520 pages, when 284 pages were text-free!

It’s definitely worth reading. It has an original idea and the setting is not something I’d come across in everyday life.

I’d recommend this book to readers aged 9 and over, particularly kids who are fascinated by machinery. I give it five stars.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of On Track. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: On Track

On Track by Kathryn Apel, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9780702253737

On track (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

Joseph received a review copy of this book.

This book is about two brothers (Shaun and Toby) and they couldn’t be less alike. One of them always gets As (Shaun) and the younger one is mostly a C person. When Toby goes to see an OT, he figures out he has a condition with his body. He starts training as a runner which he thought he couldn’t ever be good at but he wants to win an 800m race.

When I saw the cover of this book and that the author was Kathryn Apel I thought I would enjoy it because I liked her verse novel Bully on the Bus. It’s similar to Bully on the Bus because it’s also a verse novel but it’s not the versiest of the two books. Like Bully it’s also about two siblings and they also have to deal with a problem. On Track is for slightly older kids because of the length of the book — it’s longer — and because the characters in the book are older (Toby is 11).

Eleven and twelve-year-olds will like this book, especially athletic readers and fans of verse novels.

Warning: this book may contain traces of nuts. 🙂

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The Simple Things. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: The Simple Things

The Simple Things by Bill Condon, ill. Beth Norling, ISBN 9781743317242, Allen and Unwin

The Simple Things (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

Joseph reviewed his own copy of this book.

The Simple Things is about a boy named Stephen who’s never met his great aunt Lola before. His only connection with her is the birthday and Christmas cards she sends to him with $10 inside. His family goes to stay with his great aunt because they haven’t seen her in over 10 years and they’re her only relatives left. Stephen thinks there will be nothing to do and Aunty Lola seems very stubborn — she overreacts to everything.

I enjoyed this book because I liked how the characters were reacting to their situation. The illustrations at the start of every chapter are comic-like and black and white. They suit the characters and the story, and give a bit of a hint about what’s going to happen in each chapter without entirely giving everything away.

I thought the choice of cover illustration didn’t suit the book the best. I think the picture that was at the start of chapter 4 would have been better for the cover because the whole book isn’t about Stephen going fishing (and he’s alone on the cover, but he’s almost never alone in the book.)

This is a book about unusual friendships. It was an easy, quick read for me so I think ages 8 to 12 would enjoy it.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Lennie the Legend. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Lennie the Legend

Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony by Stephanie Owen Reeder, NLA Publishing, ISBN 9780642278654

Lennie the Legend (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

This is about a nine-year-old boy in 1932 who has a dream to ride his pony to Sydney for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. (He lived in Victoria.)

This book is based on a true story and when I heard about the book I thought it sounded adventurous. I also wondered why Lennie would want to do that? Because when I was nine, I wouldn’t want to be away from my parents and I would have been homesick. No nine year olds I’ve ever known could have done this spectacular feat. He was obviously a brave person with a goal he was determined to achieve.

For people who want to know about Australian history, it gives information that’s not normally known by Australian kids. Lennie the Legend has a glossary, photos of old-fashioned flyers and advertisements and certificates and things, old photos of places and people, maps and newspaper articles from the time. I didn’t think it was as good as some other historical books I’ve read — like Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer. Because in Light Horse Boy I felt more like I was there at the time watching everything happen but Lennie the Legend isn’t like that, it’s a different style of book.

Lennie the Legend is a real piece of history. This book would suit kids Lennie’s age and up.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Dropping In. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Dropping In

Dropping In by Geoff Havel, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925162219 dropping in (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

This is about two mates — one who is called Ranga and is very hyperactive and gets into trouble a lot, and one called Sticks. One day there’s a new student at school. His name is James and he’s in a wheelchair because he has cerebral palsy. They all live near each other but James can’t join in with everything the others do after school, like when they do skateboarding tricks. When James has to go into hospital for an operation, Ranga wants to make a welcome-home surprise. He has an idea that involves two skateboards and a beat up old couch. What could go wrong?

By looking at the cover, I didn’t think it was a book I would like, because I’ve never been skateboarding and this looked like a book all about skateboards. I decided to read it mostly because of the blurb and it turned out to be a really good book. I liked how these mates got along. Once I started reading Dropping In, I really, really, really didn’t want to put it down.

Most kids would enjoy this book and I think boys will particularly enjoy it. I recommend this book for kids aged 10+.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Refugee: The Diary of Ali Ismail. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review — Refugee: the Diary of Ali Ismail

Refugee: The Diary of Ali Ismail by Alan Sunderland, Scholastic Press, ISBN 1865049190

refugee (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

Joseph borrowed this book from his school library.

Refugee is the diary of a 14-year-old boy who leaves his parents in Afghanistan to get freedom in Australia. He arrives on a boat that almost sank during the journey. It’s not easy for Ali when he gets to Australia either — he’s sent off to Woomera, which is a detention centre. Will he ever be free from Woomera and live a normal Australian life?

I didn’t know much about refugees other than bits I had heard on the news and I was interested in this story. I’d read some other My Australian Story books and when I was looking for some more on the library shelf I came across this one. I like books written as a diary because it feels like it’s really from that person’s point of view and it seems like Ali’s story is actually true. This was a great book. It was quite a long one too, and I learned that sometimes children are refugees all on their own and it’s so hard for them.

This book is pitched at boys and girls who don’t mind books that aren’t humorous. Kids that like history, current affairs and books about human rights would like this book. It’s best for readers aged 11+.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids, poetry

Book review: Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry

Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry by Lorraine Marwood, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781925081022

celebrating australia: a year in poetry (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

Joseph reviewed his own copy of this book.

I like poetry collections where the poems are connected by a theme — in this book the poems are all about key events in the year. I didn’t know of a few events before I read the poems (like Diwali — Festival of Light). Australia has lots of people from different countries and I like to learn about the different celebrations and important events. Chinese New Year, Australia Day, Christmas, Pancake Day (the start of Lent), Ramadan and heaps more.

My favourite poems in this collection:

‘A Recipe for Harmony Day’

At our school we always do a lot of activities for Harmony Day. At the school in the poem they do different activities with food so the kids in the class can try out foods from different countries. I like the way the poem sounds, and I like the humour in it (like the toasted marshmallows).

‘Graduation’

I’m thinking about graduation this year because I’m in year 6 and graduation is coming up for me at the end of the year. I really like the last three lines in this poem. And I like that the whole poem is like a little list.

‘Swimming Carnival’

I like the rhythm of it, and the repetition of the last line in each stanza makes me imagine I’m there with everyone being excited and preparing for the day. (The swimming carnival is a big deal).

There is a mix of simple drawings and photographs with the poems, they’re all black and white. Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry is fun to read aloud to other people and a good summary of a year. In your class you could probably read a poem aloud when an event comes up.

I would recommend this book to children aged 8 to 12.

© February 2015 “Review of Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry” by Joseph.
(https://soupblog.wordpress.com)

Alphabet Soup talked to Lorraine Marwood recently about writing Celebrating Australia: a Year in Poetry. You can read the interview here.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The Billy That Died With Its Boots On. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Book review: The Billy That Died With Its Boots On

The Billy That Died With Its Boots On by Stephen Whiteside, ill. Lauren Merrick, ISBN 9781922077431, Walker Books Australia

The Billy that died with its boots on (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

Joseph is reviewing his own copy of this book.

This is a book where the poems are all by an Australian poet, written in Australian bush style. But not everything is about Australia — like the poem called ‘The Poles’ (as in the north and south) and there’s a dinosaur section.

Some of the poems remind me of me (especially the poem about cleaning your room). As I do with poem books, I picked out the extra interesting looking ones first and then later I went back and read the others. Some of the ones that looked interesting at first were ‘The Sash’, ‘The Saucing of the Pies’ and ‘The Icecream that Hurt’. They were all very good poems.

My favourite poems in this collection are: ‘The Poles’ and ‘The Comforts of Home’. I like the ideas behind them and the rhythms, and they’re good to say out loud as well as to read to yourself in your head.

There aren’t many pictures in this book. The illustrations are black and white and they stand out well.

Children aged 6 and above will love this book — even adults, because the style of the poems suits children and adults. My number one tip is to read the poems out loud or get someone to read them out loud to you. I’d like to read more poems by Stephen Whiteside. I like these so much I might choose one of these poems for my next school Oracy exam.

This book is best read while eating pies with sauce.

Read our earlier interview with the poet, Stephen Whiteside.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The 52-Storey Treehouse. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: The 52-Storey Treehouse

The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, ill. Terry Denton, ISBN 9781742614212, Pan Australia

The 52-Storey Treehouse

 

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

Joseph is reviewing his own copy of this book.

I had to wait a whole year for this book. When it finally came out I read it from cover to cover in one sitting and I’ve read it many more times since.

This is the fourth book in the Treehouse series and once again 13 new storeys have been added, including a watermelon smashing room. But Andy and Terry soon remember something important — Mr Big Nose has forgotten to remind them about the deadline for the new book and he has gone missing. Could it be related to that book Fun with Vegetables by Vegetable Patty? They take off on an advegetable story (an adventure with vegetables) with the help of a little caterpillar with a surprising secret. And what has happened to Jill? Why won’t she wake up when Andy and Terry explode in?

I liked lots of things about this book. Firstly, the unexpected plot. My little sister kept wrongly guessing the next step of the plot. I liked the characters — some minor characters from earlier Treehouse books are back, and there are some new ones as well. My favourite part was the craziness of everything in the book, especially Terry’s ninja snails.

My special tip for reading this book is that you should read the other books in the series (like The 26-Storey Treehouse) first because then the jokes are funnier and they make more sense.

The illustrations in this book are by Terry Denton (like in the earlier books). They are just perfect for the Treehouse series because there are lots and lots of them and they’re the sort that you don’t get bored with. His drawings are like first drafts, it’s like you’re seeing them when he’s just finished drawing them. I like that.

I would recommend this book for 7 to 13 year olds and all adults who like a bit of humour. My special warning: if you’re scared of spiders, skip over Terry’s spider pictures — they are pretty scary. Both boys and girls will enjoy reading this book.

I rate this book 9.5/10 and it’s my favourite book in the series.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Our Village in the Sky. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!