Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: No! Never!

No! Never! by Libby Hathorn, Lisa Hathorn-Jarman and Mel PearceREVIEWED BY ANWEN, 6, WA

No! Never! by Libby Hathorn & Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, illustrated by Mel Pearce, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9780734418906

Anwen received a review copy of this book from Alphabet Soup.

This book is about a little girl called Georgie who used to be nice and helpful but then turned into a very annoying person who never helped.

I liked this book because of the illustrations. I loved how Mel Pearce did all of the lines in one place because it made the pictures look more real.

Read an interview with the illustrator and get a sneak peek inside the book.


This is Anwen’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 review by Jane, book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Eloise & the Bucket of Stars

Eloise and the Bucket of Stars by Janeen BrianREVIEWED BY JANE, 8, WA

Eloise & the Bucket of Stars by Janeen Brian, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781760651879

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Eloise Pail has to do almost all the work at the orphanage. A friendly blacksmith helps her make an amazing discovery, which means she and her friend Janie have to break the rules to save the town.

This is a fantasy book set in the past. I really loved this book, because it is magical. The thing I liked best was when Janie and Eloise became friends. I liked Sister Genevieve because she was always nice.

I think that if you like unicorns or mysteries and are over 7 you would love this book.


Jane is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. Her previous review was of Total Quack Up Again. If 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 reviews by Kobe

Book review: Alice-Miranda in the Outback

Alice Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline HarveyREVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

Alice-Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline Harvey, Puffin, ISBN 9781760891039

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Alice-Miranda is an unforgettable fantastic series of outstanding books that is fabulously written by the amazing author Jaqueline Harvey, who is the great writer of the Clementine Rose series as well as Kensy and Max. This book is so utterly amazing because it is filled to the brim with funny characters and weird animal friendships. Think about what it would be like to see a big, giant, fat cat sleeping undisturbed with a teeny weeny, wet, floppy goldfish, that’s exactly what type of crazy action she exclusively includes in this exciting book!

The overall story is that Alice-Miranda and her friends are off to the Australian outback! They’re going to help an old family friend who’s found himself short-staffed during cattle mustering season. The landscape is like nothing else — wide open and dusty red as far as the eye can see. It’s also full of quirky characters, like eccentric opal miner Sprocket McGinty and the enigmatic Taipan Dan. As the gang settles in at Hope Springs Station, mysteries start piling up. A strange map indicates treasure beneath the paddocks, a young girl is missing and there are unexplained water shortages.

My most favourite part of this book is that Alice-Miranda and her friends and family go on lots and lots and lots of mysterious and exciting travelling in this book which brings me to the last stage of explaining why this awesome book is so unbelievable! Lastly, this book has the funniest characters in the world’s history! It is so because Jacqueline Harvey has made funny names and hilarious characters like Muz and Col. That is the most convincing thing I can say to you that you have to buy this glorious book right now! Now you have to!

Read a sample chapter of the book on the publisher’s website.

Check out Alphabet Soup’s Q&A with the author, Jacqueline Harvey.


Kobe is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereTo send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Shark Caller

The Shark Caller by Dianne WolferREVIEWED BY SANUKI, 10, VIC

The Shark Caller by Dianne Wolfer, Random House Australia, ISBN 9780143780557

Sanuki reviewed her own copy of this book.

This story is about a girl (Isabel), who just lost her twin brother (Ray) while diving in the open ocean. Isabel is a lovely girl, who is kind to everyone but her heart is feeling down because of the tragic loss.

Isabel only lives with her mum because her parents were divorced, but she gets to see her dad often. She travels to Papua New Guinea which was where she was born with her brother. The main point of going to Papua New Guinea is to have a death ceremony to lay her brother’s ashes.

I really like this book because it is a story with a sad beginning, but it ends with a happy ending. The feeling changes a lot which is really great for the reader, because it lets them have a different understanding of what the character would do in that type of feeling.

I would rate this book 5/5 because it makes the reader engaged to the book and it makes the reader want to see what will happen next in the book.

Read a sample chapter of The Shark Caller on the publisher’s website.


This is Sanuki’s first book 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 Fergus, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Gargantis

Gargantis by Thomas TaylorREVIEWED BY FERGUS, 10, WA

Gargantis by Thomas Taylor, Walker Books, ISBN 9781406386295

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Gargantis is the second book in The Legends of Eerie-On-Sea series by Thomas Taylor. It is set in a seaside village called Eerie-On-Sea that is your average seaside village in summer, but in winter it’s so cold, dark and stormy that the only people who arrive have an important reason for being there. Herbert Lemon (called Herbie by his friend Violet) is the Lost-And-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel. Herbert lives an ordinary life which is suddenly turned upside-down when unusually huge storms rage around Eerie-On-Sea. Then, a shadowy stranger turns up at the hotel and an old bottle washes up on the beach. Herbie and Violet are forced to leap headfirst into a dangerous adventure to stop the storms from destroying the town. What will they find when the storms finally end? What is the thing hiding in the deep cloak with its pinkish tentacles and raspy voice?

This book has great characters and many plotlines that weave together to create an amazing story. I read this book in one night and could not put it down. You will never guess who the man with a boathook for a hand is and then BAM! You find out and it all comes together like a puzzle. Except, a puzzle that puts lives at risk.

I accidentally read Gargantis (book 2) before Malamander (Book 1). Even so, it was easy to understand and there were only a few confusing bits, so you do not need to read them in order. I rate this book 10/10 and think anyone 8 and up would enjoy it.

Gargantis fan art by Fergus


Fergus is a regular reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read his earlier review of Malamander (Book 1 in this series) 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 kids, Book reviews by Kobe

Book review: Minecraft Guide to Survival

MINECRAFT GUIDE TO SURVIVAL by MojangREVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

Minecraft Guide to: Survival by Mojang AB, Egmont UK, ISBN 9781405296502

Kobe reviewed her own copy of this book.

ARGH! You just can’t find the right book to guide you through Survival Mode in Minecraft, what should you do? Well, I’ve got the perfect solution for you: read the amazing, fantastic, and spectacular Minecraft Guide to: Survival book! This official book is developed by Mojang, the creators of Minecraft and it is absolutely the unmistakable guide to Survival Mode in Minecraft with every piece of info and tips!

I believe that this book is totally and utterly the most ultimate Survival guide you can wish for! There, solved your problem, but here comes another, how do you use the book? Using the book is quite easy because all you need to do is read the book through and if you come across ANY problems, really look and seek some information to help yourself to any situations you have! How simple is that?

Now imagine you’re playing just fine, hold on! What’s that thing right next to you? Hmm, looks like some sort of creature that swims in water, EEK! It also has some creepy teeth and weird eyes! That’s exactly what happened to me! I was doing amazingly well looking at the stream I was next to behind my tree, then weird tentacles rose out of the water and with circle of teeth! But how could I know that it was only a squid rather than a nerve racking monster without this amazing guide book? If I had that book at that time, I wouldn’t be so creeped out!

Now you can immediately see how your brain is urging you to get that book! I’m just saying, you are not going to survive in Survival Mode for that long if you’re a beginner and you haven’t gotten this book already because when I tried Survival without the book, it was only a matter of time before a creeper exploded right next to me, so I died.

Now I am 100% sure you are going to get this book as soon as possible! Have a good time reading, adventurous reader!


Kobe is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereTo send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Malamander

Malamander by Thomas TaylorREVIEWED BY FERGUS, 10, WA

Malamander by Thomas Taylor, Walker Books, ISBN 9781406386288

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Malamander is the first book in The Legends of Eerie-On-Sea series by Thomas Taylor. It’s about a boy called Herbert Lemon who is the Lost-And-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. Everything is fine until a strange man comes to the hotel looking for a girl. Herbert hides the girl. He decides to keep her a secret because the man does not feel quite right. Herbert and the girl are then whisked into an adventure filled with monsters, misty nights and moaning noises. They must unearth what really happened to the girl’s parents and uncover the watery secrets of the malamander.

Malamander is a great fast-paced mystery book with many twists and turns. It has good ideas and lots of interesting characters, like the boathook man who is dark and foreboding. The ending is very exciting and the build up of tension is great. The ending hits you with a bang and leaves you stunned and amazed.

I think that if I lived by the beach I would never go out on a misty night again after reading this book. I would rate this book 10/10 and recommend it to anyone aged 8 onwards.


This is Fergus’s first book 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 kids

Book review: Goldfields Girl

Goldfields Girl by Elaine Forrestal (book cover)REVIEWED BY CÉITÍ, 11, WA

Goldfields Girl by Elaine Forrestal, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925816495

The publisher provided a review copy of this book. 

When I first moved to Australia, I lived on a street called Coolgardie Avenue. This was my first introduction to the name Coolgardie, which I learnt was a name of an early goldmining town in Western Australia. This book teaches us about Clara Saunders’ experience in the mining town of Coolgardie. Based on the true story of her life, the book tells us of the history and the happenings in the 1890s in the goldrush era.

Clara and her family come from Queensland to Perth to start a new life in WA’s goldfields to strike it rich and find gold. Clara gets offered a job in a local bar in Coolgardie. She accepts as she is always open to a new adventure and soon realises what the life-style of Coolgardie is like. She learns that water is scarce, living conditions are poor, so diseases spread easily, and it is a new town so there are not many people living there. Her friend Jack, who she meets in Southern Cross, delivers water to Coolgardie regularly. Clara does not have much female company except for Mrs Fagan, who is her boss in the pub, and later on  Florrie from England, who comes to work in the pub with Clara. Clara enjoys living there but finds it tough at times.

Goldfields Girl gives an insight into the early goldrush days in Coolgardie. Clara sees many cases of typhoid, dehydration and other illnesses. She becomes a nurse of sorts and is called out to give medical assistance in many cases. Before she leaves Southern Cross her mother gives Clara her special book, Encyclopaedia of Common Diseases and Remedies. She uses this book to help treat her patients as there are no other doctors or nurses around the area. Clara meets Moondyne Joe, a well-known West Australian bushranger, in Southern Cross and again in Coolgardie. Clara listens to Moondyne Joe telling stories of his famous escapes and adventures.

This book would be a great read for 9-14 year olds interested in historical fiction. What stood out for me was that Clara was only fourteen when she left her family and went to Coolgardie all alone. In today’s world that would never happen. I think Clara Saunders was very brave and courageous.

Read a sample chapter on the publisher’s website.


This is Céití’s second book review for Alphabet Soup. Read her earlier review. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Claire Malone Changes the World

Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L King and illustrated by Alisa KnatkoREVIEWED BY ALBIE, 8, NSW

Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L King, illustrated by Alisa Knatko, Dixi Books, ISBN 9786197458794

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

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


Video: Albie, 8, reviews Claire Malone Changes the World


Text version:

Hi, my name is Albie and today I’m going to do a book review on Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L King and Alisa Knatko.

Claire Malone is around 13 years old and never goes outside. At the start of the book she is grumpy, sad, bored and lonely. And at the end of the book she is happy, fun and cool. My favourite character in the book is Marmalade, ‘cos she’s a very cute cat.

Claire wrote letters and changed. She wrote letters to the Prime Minister, the weather department and the Education Department. She finally wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and asked for a new park. The town all celebrated to get their new park! Yay!

I learnt to stand up for myself and do what comes naturally. This book gave me courage. That is why I love it. My favourite page in this book is here [holds up book] where the school teacher says … ‘At school, Claire’s teacher asked her class to draw what scared them most.’ This is little Claire there [points to illustration] and she is scared of bananas and no wifi. And everyone else is scared of stuff like fires, bees, snakes, spiders, ghosts! And she’s just scared of … a little old … no wifi! and bananas.

I thought it was really good because it’s really funny. I really do hope you read this book and love it as much as I do. Bye!


Albie is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. Read a previous review here. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines.

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Boy at the Back of the Class

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Rauf and illustrated by Pippa CurnickREVIEWED BY MIRA, YR 5, NSW

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf, illustrated by Pippa Curnick, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9781510105010

Mira reviewed her own copy of this book. This review was longlisted in Alphabet Soup’s 2020 Young Book Reviewers’ Competition. 

This story is about a nine-year-old named Alexa and her three friends that felt so much pity for a refugee boy, named Ahmet. Ahmet ran away from war in Syria. He sailed the sea and walked for days. They run away from school, just to help Ahmet find his parents!

The main characters are Ahmet the refugee boy, Alexa, Michael and Tom. Michael, Tom and Josie are Alexa’s best friends. Tom has short, spiky hair and a side smile. He’s really small, but really funny. Tom moved from America to the UK. He has 3 older brothers. Josie has large, brown eyes and at least a million freckles on her face. She is the fastest girl in Alexa’s year and can kick a ball straight past a goalie from the other side of a pitch. Josie and Alexa’s mums were friends at school. Michael has glasses that are broken, and his shoelaces are never done right. Michael is a quiet boy, but when he does say something, adults look impressed. He can’t run fast or kick a ball in a straight line, but he doesn’t care.

Ahmet is a quiet boy and is a refugee. Although he ran away from war, he is a really nice boy, despite how many people laugh and bully him. He’s really fast and is amazing at soccer. He is from Syria and isn’t so fluent at English yet.

Alexa is Ahmet’s best and first friend. She’s really nice and is good at spelling. She helps Ahmet a lot and gets mad at people who tease and bully Ahmet.

Alexa’s courage and care towards Ahmet made a huge difference, bringing happiness into his life and taking away sadness and loneliness. They run away from school, just to help Ahmet find his parents!

It is a heart-warming story written by Onjali Q Raúf that teaches children about the power of friendship, kindness and care towards others. I highly recommend this book, especially to people who like adventure and fictional stories.


During May and June Alphabet Soup will be posting all the book reviews by those longlisted in our 2020 Book Reviewers’ Competition.