Posted in Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Bad Beginning

REVIEWED BY AYAAN, 10, VIC

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 9780064407663

Ayaan reviewed his own copy of this book.

This is a book written by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler).

The Bad Beginning is the first book in the series: A Series of Unfortunate Events. The series, unsurprisingly, has thirteen books, and the thirteenth book ends on the thirteenth chapter! These books are about the misfortune of the Baudelaire children. 

This first book in the series is the start of the Baudlaire children’s misfortune and misery. The Baudelaire children are orphans after a fire that wiped out their parents. Violet, who is the oldest and a girl of fourteen, loves inventing. Klaus, a boy of twelve, is an avid reader. Sunny, an infant, has four sharp teeth and loves to bite things. Violet is to inherit the Baudelaire fortune when she is of age.

They are adopted by Count Olaf who is horrid and mean. But is he just mean or is something sinister going on? When they come over for dinner, his acting troupe look a bit suspicious. When the children are invited to perform in Count Olaf’s play, something seems amiss. What are Count Olaf and his troupe planning?

I would rate this book five stars as it is mysteriously interesting. This book is good for people who like mystery and are aged 9+.

Oh, by the way, the book is written in a way that not many books are written. Just something you ought to know.

(Take a sneak peek inside the book!)


This is Ayaan’s first review for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

REVIEWED BY EVIE, 12, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, Algonquin Books, ISBN 9781616207465

Evie reviewed her own copy of this book.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an adventure novel that was a New York Times bestseller and won the 2017 Newbery Medal. This book is about a place called the Protectorate and the people of the Protectorate sacrifice a baby each year to the witch in the forest. But the witch, whose name is Xan, is very kind. She takes the babies left in the forest to a new family on the other side of the forest where she knows they will be happily taken in and cared for. Along the way she feeds the babies using starlight, which has a little bit of magic in it but not enough to make the babies magical. But one year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight. And moonlight is magic. For years the girl (Luna) grows up as an ordinary child with Xan, Fyrian the Simply Enormous Dragon and Glerk the monster from the bog. But what happens when Luna’s magic starts to come out … ?

I enjoyed this book as it is beautifully written and explores the meaning of memory hope, love and emotion. The characters are not perfect and that is what makes them relatable. The heroes and heroines are resilient, empathetic and show the importance of family and friends.

This book filled me with a little bit of magic and is an all-time favourite. So if you like magic, suspense and surprise then this a great book for you. This book is probably best suited to 10 to 12-year-olds.

Read an excerpt from The Girl Who Drank the Moon.


Evie is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. This is her second review for Alphabet Soup. Check out Evie’s review of Fozia and the Quest for Prince Zal! To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, refer to our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Fozia and the Quest of Prince Zal

REVIEWED BY EVIE, 12, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

Fozia and the Quest of Prince Zal by Rosanne Hawke, UQP, ISBN 9780702263071

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Fozia and the Quest of Prince Zal is an adventure and fantasy novel. This book is about Pakistan after the floods and about a girl called Fozia trying to find her family. Fozia lives with a boy called Jehan and his family after he saved her from the flood. Jehan’s family grow to love Fozia but they remind Fozia too much of her old family. So to help herself keep the memories of her family alive Fozia tells them a story. She tells a story about a prince with leprosy who is searching for his little sister in the jungle on a flying carpet. Prince Zal faces the beasts of the jungle and the pariyan to find his sister. Will he reach her before it’s too late? Everybody loves Fozia’s story but is it really fiction? Can Fozia learn to love her new family?

I liked this book as it was very original and creative talking about memory and hope as well as the love of friends but most importantly, family. The characters are very realistic, making you believe that this story actually could’ve happened, whilst still adding a bit of that fairytale magic.

This book showed me what the aftermath of a natural disaster would be like. This is the third book in the series so please read the other books first: Jehan and the Quest of the Lost Dog and Kelsey and the Quest of the Porcelain Doll.

If you like fairytales, history and real life references then I recommend this book for you. This book is probably best suited to 9 to 11-year-olds.


Evie is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. This is her first review for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows

REVIEWED BY EMILY, 9, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows by Denis Knight and Cristy Burne

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows by Denis Knight and Cristy Burne, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9780734420190

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

I found Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows to be a fascinating fantasy fiction adventure, but it is missing the absence of surprise when Wednesday made the portal back home. When Wednesday and Alfie fight off the laundry monster I imagined it wearing Alfie’s hat and I almost laughed so hard!

I enjoyed this story because of its detail and how each character showed perseverance and resilience to help family and friends. When I read Wednesday Weeks I had to notice its similarity to Scarlet and Ivy because both books try to help family and are about magic! I liked the skull, Bruce, because he was funny and helped Wednesday and Alfie.

I rate this book a full 5 stars!

Read a sample chapter of Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows!


Emily is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. This is her first review for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Wizard in my Shed

REVIEWED BY INDI, 9, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

The Wizard in My Shed The MIsadvendtures of Merdyn the Wild by Simon Farnaby and illustrated by Claire Powell

The Wizard in My Shed: The Misadventures of Merdyn the Wild by Simon Farnaby, illustrated by Claire Powell, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9781444954388

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

The Wizard in my Shed is entertaining and takes you on a whimsical journey through the Dark Ages to the 21st century, meeting unique characters with different personalities. All the illustrations enhance and bring to life the story in a funny way.

In the book, Rose meets new friends and gets to know her family better, and though I love all the characters, my favourite is Bubbles (Rose’s guinea pig), and all the unexpected surprises!

 I think this book is perfect for 8–10 year olds who want a hilarious and meaningful novel with a moral to read.


Indi is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. This is her first review for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Footprints on the Moon

REVIEWED BY CHARLOTTE, 11, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood

Footprints on the Moon by Lorraine Marwood, UQP, ISBN 9780702262838

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Sharnie Burley is in her early teens and is struggling with the problems of life. The year is 1969, around the time of the first moon landing and the Vietnam war. Sharnie’s sister Cas meets a soldier who has returned from the Vietnam war, after being conscripted. Cas becomes an anti-war protester, which causes conflict within the family …

The story is told through the eyes of Sharnie, as she starts to deal with the difficulties of adolescence. She is beginning her high school journey and finding it difficult to make new friends. It is a story about family relationships and growing up in challenging times.

This captivating and engaging story is easy to read and has an interesting storyline. I think that this book would suit children aged around 10-13 and I would definitely recommend it!

Read our interview with the author of Footprints on the Moon.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Charlotte’s first 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 Iona Presentation College

Book review: Girl of the Southern Sea

REVIEWED BY STEPHANIE, 11, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman, UQP, ISBN 9780702262937

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

When Nia’s life is turned upside down, can she still find the strength to keep going and persevere? I love how Nia is faced with so many difficult challenges throughout the book and how she gets through them all. 

Her mother died giving birth to her younger brother, Rudi, her Bakap (dad) is always getting drunk and her best friend is making her keep a bad secret. Yet, Nina still has time to work the fritters cart, to help pay the rent, and look after her brother, Rudi. I think Nia is the strongest character from any book I have ever read, she is smart, helps others and is very devoted to her family. 

If I had to rate this book I would give it 100 out of 10,  that is how good it is. I loved learning some Indonesian words, I feel that it was a great touch to put Indonesian words in a book based in Indonesia. Overall, this is one of the best books I have ever read. I hope I can be as strong as Nia when life faces me with challenges.

Read our interview with the author of Girl of the Southern Sea.


Stephanie is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. This is her first review for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo

REVIEWED BY ELIZABETH, 8, NSW

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo by Kylie Howarth

Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo by Kylie Howarth, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781760652548

Elizabeth received a review copy of this book.

‘Go, Hermie! go’ I whispered.

‘No, mine is going to win,’ said my best friend Emely.

This is Fish Kid and the Turtle Torpedo and it is about Bodhi and Emely. They are on a vacation in the Maldives and they find a turtle that is sick because it can’t swim underwater or dive.

Bodhi (Fish Kid) cannot carry Emely and the turtle back to their island to show Bodhi’s dad who could help. So Bodhi just takes the turtle and leaves Emely behind at the beach island. 

Is the turtle going to survive? Will Emely get home?

I love this book! That is why I give this book 10/10! I love when they help the turtle.  I like that the author introduced real animals in Fish Kid Fact pages such as the spinner dolphins and black tip reef sharks.

Read an interview with the author-illustrator of the Fish Kid series.


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!

Posted in book reviews

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!

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

Book review: Gisela Kaplan, bird and primate scientist

REVIEWED BY GABRIEL, 10, NSW

Gisela Kaplan Bird and primate scientist, story told by Emily Gale (book cover)

Gisela Kaplan, Bird and Primate Scientist by Emily Gale, Wild Dingo Press, ISBN 9781925893465

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

How did Gisela Kaplan, a young German survivor of WWII become a world-leading expert in the behaviour of animals?

This book is a biography of Gisela Kaplan written by Emily Gale. Gisela Kaplan had a hard life in Germany after the Second World War. Then after she immigrated to Australia, the book shows how other people helped her along in her career as she played a role in primate and bird science. In addition, there are notes to help explain words you don’t understand.

When she arrives in Australia what jobs could she take? How did she learn a second language, and how does she support her daughter? Read Aussie STEM Stars Gisela Kaplan to find out more and all the answers to these questions!

I like this book and for me, it is five-star rated because it shows an emotional story of immigration. It also shows how much practice has to go into work till you can fulfil your dream, as you can see how she consistently worked away from home, in the work field.   

This book would be for ages ten and up to read by themselves although most children from the age of six to ten can read with someone to help the children understand. Go grab a copy of this amazing book either online or hard copy.

Read a sample chapter from this book

Read our interview with the author


Gabriel is a regular book reviewer at Alphabet Soup. You can read more of his reviews here.