Book reviews by Elizabeth, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Team Trouble!

REVIEWED BY ELIZABETH, 9, NSW

Team Trouble! by Eddie Woo & Dave Hartley, illustrated by Mitch Vane, Pan Macmillan Australia, ISBN 9781760983000

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Have you ever had a mystery to solve with your friends?  Well, then you should read this book. Team Trouble! is written by Eddie Woo and Dave Hartley and illustrated by Mitch Vane. This book is about Eddie and his sidekicks (DT and Rusty) who all love skateboarding.

In this book, the mystery is about Mr Appleby. Mr Appleby helped Eddie’s Mum and Dad when they arrived in Australia from Malaysia in the 1990s, but now Mr Appleby is old. Mr Appleby’s aged care home is closing down. What do Eddie and his friends do? What will happen next?

I like this book because it has mental and physical challenges for Eddie and his friends. I rate this book 10/10. This book is suitable for age kids 8 and over. 

Read the first chapter of this book on the publisher’s website.


Elizabeth is a regular reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read more of her reviews here. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Gabriel, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Time Out!

Photo shows the cover of a children's novel: Time Out! by Eddie Woo and Jess Black and illustrated by Mitch Vane. The cover illustration features a giant question mark, and a boy in a red shirt holding a magnifying glass up to his eye.

REVIEWED BY GABRIEL, 11, NSW

Time Out! by Eddie Woo and Jess Black, illustrated by Mitch Vane, Pan Macmillan Australia, ISBN 9781760982997

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Searching for a new book to dive into over the holidays or when you are bored? Or figure you are a bit of a detective? Time Out! is a mystery novel by Eddie Woo & Jess Black. It is part of the Whodunnit? series currently containing two novels, the other one being Team Trouble. The main protagonist of the book is young Eddie Woo, a super sleuth and maths whizz. Together with his friends, Rusty and DT, they accidentally stumble across a treasure hunt created by Henry Cedric James in the 1880s. Even though their suburb of Red Hill is small there can still be an action-packed adventure. 

Henry was the founder of Red Hill and hand-built many public buildings like the Council school, lighthouse, old cathedrals, parks and many homes. In some of these locations he left hints and ciphers to where the next clue might be. It is rumoured that Henry worked at the Ballarat Goldfields before founding the new suburb. When he passed away, he left most of his gold hidden, rumoured to be at the end of the treasure hunt. But every good story needs an antagonist so, someone is going to take drastic measures to ensure Eddie doesn’t reach the end!

This is an awesome book including maths and instrumental talents. I rate this book 5 stars out of 5 as it has a good climax, resolution and includes maths to explain things.


Gabriel is a regular book reviewer at Alphabet Soup. You can read more of his reviews here. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Joshua, Book reviews by kids

Book review: All Four Quarters of the Moon

Image shows the cover of a children's novel: All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr. The cover illustration shows two sisters with dark hair facing each other and holding hands around a tiny paper rabbit. Behind them is the night sky with a giant full moon.

REVIEWED BY JOSHUA, 13, NSW

All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr, Penguin Australia, ISBN 9781760899554

Joshua received a review copy of this book.

Peijing is not from this country. Australia is such a different place to Singapore. Accompanied by Ba Ba (her Dad), Ma Ma (her Mum), her sister Biju and Ah Ma, her grandmother, Peijing is unsure of the strange new cultures and the adaptations she will have to make to fit into Australia. To Peijing’s realisation, her family are all fighting their own uncertainties in their new life. Little Biju is only in kindergarten and is struggling as her English isn’t as fluent as everyone else’s. Ma Ma doesn’t do much as she is alone without all her friends around and she can’t speak English. The only thing she finds she can do is to clean the house incessantly. Ba Ba doesn’t talk to anyone now, though he used to talk to the other men in the family. The family first moved to Australia so he could get a promotion. Ah Ma, who sits at the TV all day has nothing to do, like Ma Ma, and she also keeps forgetting things like who Peijing is, to chew food, and she dangerously wanders away from the house.

With all these problems in her family’s lives, Peijing feels that she cannot express her own issues to them so she steps up to care for the family especially Biju, who is still young and believes everything her sister says.

Helpless, the only thing Peijing knows she can control is the little world – a precious paper world where the two sisters create stories with their paper animal and plant creations. The world is filled with different creatures, real and fantasy but there are no people. To Peijing, the little world is a sanctuary of peace, a place of safety and security where she forms new stories from the shapes of different creatures.

As Peijing starts to feel at home in Australia, she questions what she can do to help her family in this foriegn land. Follow Peijing in this heartwarming book and how she leads her family through the struggles of culture shock and change. 

I particularly resonated with this book as I moved back to Australia after 11 years of living overseas and had to face changes in my lifestyle, different cultural expectations and ideals. I love the theme of identity that is interwoven throughout this book.

I would recommend this book for readers aged 9 and above. I’m sure you will enjoy this exceptional fiction novel. I rate this amazing book 5/5.

Read our interview with the author, Shirley Marr.


Joshua is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. Check out more of Joshua‘s reviewhere If YOU would like to send us a book review, please refer to our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Anwen, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Fantastically Great Women Artists and their Stories

Image shows the cover of a children's nonfiction book: Fantastically Great Women Artists and their Stories by Kate Pankhurst. The cover is predominantly red and shows drawings in a cartoon-like style of some of the women artists at work.

REVIEWED BY ANWEN, 8, WA

Fantastically Great Women Artists and their Stories by Kate Pankhurst, Bloomsbury, ISBN 9781526615343

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Fantastically Great Women Artists and their Stories is a non-fiction book. It is written by Kate Pankhurst and is about seven artists and one art collector. The artists in the book are Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun, Frida Kahlo, Amrita Sher-Gill, Kathe Kollwitz, Dame Laura Knight, Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Faith Ringgold. The art collector is Peggy Guggenheim. She created one of the most important art collections in the world.

I learnt about the lives of these women. I knew a bit about Frida Kahlo already but I learnt more from this book. I found Kathe Kollwitz the most interesting of them all. At a time of war she showed parents and children grieving in her art works. The book made me feel sorrow and happiness. It made me feel inspired too.

The illustrations are detailed and show what the lives of the women were like. Although they have no colour they are spectacular.

I recommend this book for people who like doing art. It is good for people who are seven and over.


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

Book reviews by Elizabeth, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Creswell Eastman, the Man Who Saved a Million Brains

The image shows the cover of a children's biography: Cresswell Eastman, the Man who Saved a Million Brains by Penny Tangey. The cover is predominantly orange and shows a hand drawn illustration of Cresswell Eastman in a white surgical coat, holding a microscope. He's surrounded by doodle style illustrations of a stethoscope, a needs and a glowing lightbulb.

REVIEWED BY ELIZABETH, 9, NSW

Creswell Eastman, the Man Who Saved a Million Brains by Penny Tangey, Wild Dingo Press, ISBN 9781925893526

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Creswell Eastman was the smartest child in the class. One day, Sister Francis asked Creswell to follow her in the hall. They walked through the senior school, into the classroom and he saw his older sister. He was tested to see if he was better at maths than anyone else. That afternoon a boy punched him for being better at maths. The next day at lunchtime his teacher, who was a nun, taught Creswell to defend himself. The following day the boy was waiting for Creswell. What would Cres do?

The thing I enjoyed the most about the book by Penny Tangey was learning how Creswell used medicine to help people. It is amazing that he saved so many people’s lives in Asia.

I recommend this book to 8 years old and up because it is wonderful and interesting. I rate this book 10 out of 10.

Read chapter one on the publisher’s website.


Elizabeth is a regular reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read more of her reviews here. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Emily, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Wednesday Weeks and the Dungeon of Fire

Image shows the cover of a children's science fiction novel: Wednesday Weeks and the Dungeon of Fire by Denis Knight and Cristy Burne. The cover of the image shows two kids and an adult running from a huge fire. The three look determined, not afraid. The boy carries a sword and the adult is wearing a cloak and carrying a staff.

REVIEWED BY EMILY, 10, WA

Wednesday Weeks and the Dungeon of Fire by Denis Knight and Cristy Burne, Lothian Children’s Books, ISBN 9780734420237

Emily received a review copy of this book.

Wednesday Weeks and the Dungeon of Fire is a thrilling science fiction book and the third book of the Wednesday Weeks series. In this adventure book Wednesday is given the chance to eliminate the tyrannical Goblin King, Gorgomoth, once and for all. But in order to do that she must beat the savage Gorgomoth to the powerful Stone of Power. To get to the Stone of Power Wednesday must face physical and mental challenges, all to save the world. 

I loved this book because it’s a bit different from the other Wednesday Weeks books, seeing that the challenges that Wednesday and her friends have to confront are more exciting and harder. Another outstanding feature of this book is to explain about how meaningful having friends is.

I recommend this book to ages 7+ but it can be enjoyed by people of any age. Fans of Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows and Wednesday Weeks and the Crown of Destiny will also love this book.

I rate this book a 6 out of 5!


Emily is a regular reviewer for Alphabet Soup. Read more reviews by Emily here. To send us YOUR book review, read our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Emily, Book reviews by kids

Book review: How to be Prime Minister and Survive Grade Five

Image shows the cover of a children's novel: How to be Prime Minister and Survive Grade Five by Carla Fitzgerald. The cover is predominantly light blue and shows a wall with framed photographs of australian Prime Ministers hanging up, and the main character of this book (a girl with brown hair, pale skin and a navy blazer and red tie) holding a frame up around her face as if she is also one of the prime ministers.

REVIEWED BY EMILY, 10, WA

How to be Prime Minister and Survive Grade Five by Carla Fitzgerald, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9780702265587

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

How to be Prime Minister and Survive Grade Five by Carla Fitzgerald is a humorous fiction book about a girl called Harper, her sister Lottie, and her friends.

The problems begin when Harper’s dad saves two children (and a labradoodle) from a shark! Harper’s  dad is then invited to be Prime Minister! But being Prime Minister isn’t that fun and all the pressure piles on Harper’s dad, when suddenly he decides to run away, leaving Harper to find a way to run the country, not get humiliated in her class and figure out which policy should become law – all without her dad.

I found this book fun and entertaining with bucket loads of humour. The message it teaches you is that when things are tough, you should stay strong and work through the problem. Another lesson that spoke loudly from this book was that working as a team always helps.

This book is probably going to be enjoyed by fans of Keeping up with the Dachshunds, which is also written by Carla Fitzgerald, as the same humour is used.

All ages from 6+ would enjoy this book.  I rate this an outstanding five out of five.


Emily is a regular reviewer for Alphabet Soup. Read more reviews by Emily here. To send us YOUR book review, read our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Joshua, Book reviews by kids

Book review: When the War Came Home

Image shows the cover of a children's historical novel: When the War Came Home by Lesley Parr. The cover illustration shows two girls and a boy running across a field with blue skies above and the scene is framed with red poppies.

REVIEWED BY JOSHUA, 13, NSW

When the War Came Home by Lesley Parr, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 9781526621009

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

World War I has ended. Twelve-year-old Natalie is outraged at her mother, Ffion, who was fired from work and is a month overdue on rent. On top of that, they are moving away to Ysgol Ynysfach, to her uncle’s smallhold. Her mother is an advocate for the underdog but she gets herself into trouble. Natty meets her cousins Nerys, who is a know-it-all and Huw, a seventeen year old, who was in the war. In the park, Natty meets two other war veterans, Johnny and Charles. Johnny has lost his memory, known as hysterical fugue, and the doctors tried everything they could think of to help him. Natty wants to help. But how can she?

I enjoyed this novel because I can relate to Natty and how she feels emotionally and personally. It also shows the growth and development of Natty’s mind and beliefs. The author relates to the audience, making it personal, bringing the story to life. As it is a historical fiction novel I really appreciated getting an inside view of the lifestyles back then.

In this captivating book, follow Natty’s adventure in finding her purpose and her confidence. I rate this five out of five, for ages 9 to 15.


Joshua is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. Read more of Joshua‘s reviews here If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Gabriel, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Mars Awakens

Image shows the cover of a children's novel: Mars Awakens by HM Waugh. The cover illustration shows the silhouettes of two children, standing face to face. Behind them is a greenish sky over the red ground on Mars.

REVIEWED BY GABRIEL, 11, NSW

Mars Awakens by HM Waugh, A&U Children’s, ISBN 9781760526979

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Mars Awakens is a sci-fi novel written by H. M. Waugh. The book is set in the future after humans colonised Mars. Something falls out of the sky near two separate colonies. Is it backup and resources from Earth? Holt from the first colony and Dee from the other one separately fly over to the crash site to investigate and meet for the first time. One of the colonies thought they already knew about the other colony and despised them, while the other didn’t even know that the first colony existed.

Dee and Holt face many troubles and will need to work together to survive and tell their communities about some new information they just obtained.  

What I liked about the book was how the author used science and accurate facts to form the story. I also appreciate it because it has a fun and enjoyable storyline. 

I recommend the book for people in primary school around 3rd to 6th grade, also for children that enjoy sci-fi and science.

Check out our earlier interview with the author, HM Waugh.


Gabriel is a regular book reviewer at Alphabet Soup. You can read more of his reviews here. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Emily, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow

The image shows the cover of a children's novel: The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow by Kate Gordon. The cover illustration is hand drawn and shows a close up of a boy's head and shoulders. He has pale skin, short dark hair and he's smiling without showing his teeth. He wears a white neckerchief and a blue shirt. Around him are branches and wildflowers and way behind him is a white cottage style house with the silhouettes of two birds flying above it and forked lightning.

REVIEWED BY EMILY, 10, WA

The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow by Kate Gordon, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9780702263484

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow is a thrilling adventure book about a boy called Jackdaw Hollow who gets orphaned after his parents and he go outside during a thunderstorm, but Jackdaw miraculously survives. A lady named Mrs Celeste Beekman decides to take him in and be his foster mother while also being the headmistress of Direleafe hall – a school for girls. Jackdaw Hollow has always wanted to find his calling and when an opportunity presents itself he gladly accepts it. He meets several people like ghosts, strange girls and an evil lady and all to try and find his calling.

I really enjoyed this book because it not only teaches people about friendship but is also a thrilling adventure book. Another sensational feature about this book is that it tells you that you should not go too far and lose yourself to try and find your calling.

This book would be suitable for ages 6–12 but can be enjoyed by older or younger people. I would give this book five out of five stars because I like how it can teach others about the meaning of friendship and not to take things too far.


Emily is a regular reviewer for Alphabet Soup. Read more reviews by Emily here. To send us YOUR book review, read our submission guidelines. Happy reading!