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 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 Joshua, Book reviews by kids

Book review: A Glasshouse of Stars

REVIEWED BY JOSHUA, 12, NSW

The image shows the cover of a children's book: A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr. The cover illustration shows a girl with black plaits and a green tunic shirt walking into a glasshouse that looks lit-up from inside and packed full of colourful and marvellous plants, flowers and trees. Above the glasshouse it appears to be night/a dark sky.

A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr, Penguin Australia, ISBN 9781760899547

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

‘The hardest part is over. You made it.’ 

You find yourself in a new country, in a big city, in a big house. It’s all new and scary. You, Meixing, have been told you need to go to school as well. Everything is strange to you – the language, the people, the culture and the school. This is Australia. 

Your home, Big Scary, is your friend and looks out for you. Big Scary keeps you safe and protected. Everything is ok.

But everything goes wrong when Ah Ma’s wedding ring, your grandma’s wedding ring, is lent to you for good luck at school. The problem is that your supposed friend tricks you and steals the ring. You don’t know how to get it back as you can’t speak the language fluently and your now ex-friend lies and says that her parents got it for her. Distraught, you go home.

What are you going to do? What other problems will you face?

Shirley Marr’s book, A Glasshouse of Stars, expresses big, strong emotions and feelings such as when Meixing loses someone close to her and is very torn apart. Later she finds the glasshouse’s secret and is exuberant upon her findings. Marr mixes Meixing’s imagination and brings it to life, causing the reader to visualise the scene before them. The way Marr uses second person helps the reader to understand and empathise with Meixing. 

As an avid reader, I really enjoyed reading this book and every time I see the coloured cover of the book, I am compelled to pick it up and fly back to Meixing’s world. This book is very creative through the metaphors and images that connect the story together. It is also relatable as I have also faced some of the problems Meixing met. I encourage you thoroughly to pick up this book and find yourself in the shoes of a migrant girl.

I loved this book deeply and rate it a well-deserved 5 out of 5. Come read this exceptional book!

Take a sneak peek at the first chapter of the book.

Read our earlier interview with the author.


Joshua is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. Read his earlier review of Eddie Woo, Superstar Maths Teacher here.  If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Joshua, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Eddie Woo, Superstar Maths Teacher

REVIEWED BY JOSHUA, 12, NSW

Eddie Woo Superstar Maths Teacher story told by Rebecca Lim

Eddie Woo: Superstar Maths Teacher by Rebecca Lim, Wild Dingo Press, ISBN 9781925893403

Wild Dingo Press provided a review copy of this book.

Eddie Woo, the award winning mathematics teacher, has an intriguing past with lots of surprises. 

But was he always a superstar mathematician when he was young?

‘Catch you later,’ one of the boys hissed over his shoulder at where Eddie lay face down on the ground.

‘Drop you later, you mean!’ another one hooted over Eddie’s head.

Eddie Woo was one of the few Asian kids in his primary school. He was bullied for his short stature. Being known for studying didn’t help either. He had a lot of allergies and eczema which caused him to itch, only to be seen as a distraction in class by his teachers, who sent him to the principal’s office. He felt like no-one cared about him and he was neglected at school. He knew he was left out and overlooked, especially by his teachers. However, he always got high marks in English and History. 

What happened to Eddie that changed him from a victim of bullying to becoming a superstar mathematics teacher? Find out in Rebecca Lim’s captivating biography of Eddie Woo’s life. 

This is one of the most engaging biographies I’ve read because it is filled with surprises. Eddie shows his achievements and also his times of trouble. Throughout the book, you learn about Eddie’s emotions, feelings, thoughts and faith in God. Not only that, Eddie shows a few mathematical diagrams in the back of his book that emphasises how mathematics is everywhere in nature.

I rate this book 5 out of 5.

Read our earlier interview with the author of this book, Rebecca Lim.


Joshua is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. Read his 2020 review of Worse Things here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Joshua, Book reviews by kids

Book review: WORSE THINGS

REVIEWED BY JOSHUA, 11, NSW

Worse Things by Sally Murphy with illustrations by Sarah Davis

Worse Things by Sally Murphy, illustrations by Sarah Davis, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781760651657

Joshua received a review copy of this book. 

Sally Murphy is the imaginative author of the book, Worse Things. Based in Australia, this non-rhyming book depicts three different views Amed, Blake and Jolene. Amed is new to the school and watches the two other children from a distance – Blake, the Footy Boy and Jolene, the Hockey Girl. Meanwhile, Blake breaks his arm and now observes his football mates play without him. Jolene hates playing hockey because her other teammates dislike her and think that she is too selfish. Her mother urges her on anyway. All Jolene wants is for her dad to come back from saving people and save her from being forced to play hockey. ’How do these three characters’ different situations become one story?’ you may ask yourself …

This is a touching book, which anyone older than the age of 9 would enjoy reading. I appreciate this book because the author uses different techniques, such as if she wants to emphasise a word she would use a short poem to describe it like it is from a dictionary.

In my opinion, Worse Things is rated 4.5 out of 5. I loved reading this highly engaging, captivating and also heart-felt book! 

Read our interview with the author of Worse Things, Sally Murphy. 


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