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

Book review: Mel and Shell

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

The image shows the cover of a children's novel: Mel and Shell by Julia Lawrinson. The cover has a 70s vibe. In the centre of the book are two girls with the backs to the viewer. They are both wearing jeans and bright coloured tshirts, one has long blonde hair and one has shoulder-length brown hair. They are dancing, with hands above their heads. The remaining ilustrations make an oval 'frame' around the girls. Crammed into these illustrations are orange and pink flowers, a pair of yellow roller skate boots, a grey horse, and a bike.

Mel and Shell by Julia Lawrinson, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781760990725

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Mel and Shell is a book about friendship, laughter, friendship problems and of course ABBA. This book is set 40 years ago when the world was obsessed with the sensational band ABBA.

In this book Shell and her classmates are writing to a pen-pal from 1829 about their day, what they would be surprised about and what they would like. 

Another character in this book is Sharon the girl who can’t get enough of herself. She is a mean person but gets people to think that she is nice.

There were many surprises in this book but one of my favourites was that they went on school camp and Sharon forced Shell to push her and some boys out to an island and something happens to one of them.

The cover of this book is amazing and tells a lot, and I love the characters; Shell is just so outgoing, kind and funny and Mel is adventurous and nice. I recommend this book for kids aged 10 and up and for anyone who needs a good book to laugh.

I give this book 5 stars for the creativity and the good plot.

Read our interview with the author and read an excerpt from the book.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Kate’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 by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: A Tale of Witchcraft

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

The image shows the cover of a children's fantasy novel: A Tale of Witchcraft. The title is at the top of the book. At the bottom are the words "Bestselling author of The Land of Stories, Chris Colfer". The cover is predominantly in purples. At the centre of the cover is a circle (reminiscent of a crystal ball) with a gothic-looking castle inside. Surrounding the ball are a white wolf, young witches walking into the distance wearing black cloaks with the hoods up, and a tangle of twisty tree branches. The overall effect is spooky.

A Tale of Witchcraft (A Tale of Magic: Book 2) by Chris Colfer, Hachette Children, ISBN 9780316523547

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

Brystal is the fairy godmother, with responsibilities stacked as high as the sky. She finds that everything is falling apart and her friendships are spiralling out of control. How will she protect herself from the righteous brotherhood and put her friendships together again?  

I don’t know how Brystal found the courage to keep going everyday, it was inspiring. Brystal taught me how to keep going even in the darkest times and to never give up no matter what the circumstances. This was the best fantasy book I have ever read, it was so engaging and each page was like its own story. I can’t wait to read the next book!

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who loves a good page-turner, especially if you love to read fantasy. I hope that everyone is as inspired as I am by Brystal.


Stephanie is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. This is her second review for Alphabet Soup. You can read her review of Girl of The Southern Sea here. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: My Brother Ben

My Brother Ben by Peter Carnavas

REVIEWED BY INDI, 9, WA, IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE

My Brother Ben by Peter Carnavas, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9780702263330

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

My Brother Ben is a timeless story of two brothers and a magpie.

Luke is a quiet boy who loves and is very knowledgeable about birds. Ben is starting high school, is adventurous, and both brothers share a dream about exploring Cabbage Tree Creek in a boat of their very own. When Ben starts sneaking out at night, Luke decides to follow him.

This book is a tale of brotherly love, birds and boats. I would recommend this beautiful book to 10 to 110-year-olds who enjoy a book about the bond of family and a tiny bit of mystery.

Read our interview with the author, Peter Carnavas.


Indi is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. Read her earlier review of The Wizard in My Shed. To send us YOUR own book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Amira’s Magpie

REVIEWED BY WILLIAM, 10, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

Amira's Magpie by Kate Gordon and Krista Brennan

Amira’s Magpie by Kate Gordon, illustrated by Krista Brennan, Wombat Books, ISBN 9781925563986

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

“He sings to her, too, and she knows his language.”

Amira’s Magpie is a slow-moving, gentle book of imagination and longing. Amira imagines her magpie flying across the world, to visit her homeland and the family she left behind. From this, and through both words and pictures, we are left to imagine her story.

This book isn’t very long, but it doesn’t need to be, because every thing you need to know comes from the beautiful illustrations and your imagination.

I would recommend this book for people who can read beyond the words, and feel that the character is their own self.

I rate this book: 5 stars.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is William’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 by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour

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

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9780734419163

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour is about a 12-year-old girl named April, whose mother abandoned her when she was just an infant. The only thing April has from her past is a mysterious key on a chain. Years later, after moving around between many foster families, April arrives at the Winterborne Home for Orphans. At the Winterborne Home, she meets a group of children and together this group of misfits uncover deep and dark secrets which have been masked for a decade. As part of their journey of discovering mysterious secrets, this mismatched band of orphans come to rely on one another and ultimately become like the family they all longed for. 

Little does the group know, April holds the key to the Winterborne Legacy. It is sought out by one of the last living Winterborne’s, Evert Winterborne. Why does Evert desire this key? What does it unlock? Evert is willing to commit murder to get his hands on the Legacy, which he believes is rightfully his. However, his mission of unlocking his family’s Legacy is continually thwarted by the orphans, who are the only thing that stand between Evert and the Winterborne Home and Legacy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it captivated me and held my attention right until the end. I felt as if the characters were so real and relatable that they could jump right out of the page and I was in the Winterborne Home with them. I think this book was very interesting and for people who love mysteries and adventures this is the book for you! I would give this book an eight out of ten and would recommend it for older readers.

Read an excerpt from the book via the publisher’s website.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Lily’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 by Charlotte, Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Mina and the Whole Wide World

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

Mina and the Whole Wide World by Sherryl Clark and illustrated by Briony Stewart

Mina and the Whole Wide World by Sherryl Clark, illustrated by Briony Stewart, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9780702263231

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

This is the story of Mina, a young girl, and her parents one day decide to take in a refugee boy. At first, Mina is shocked and upset, but when the boy, Azzami, moves in, she starts to discover his full story …

This heart-warming and emotional story is wonderful and easy to read. I thought that using the idea of a refugee child was sure to make people think about refugees differently. After reading this book, I learned that there are more to refugees than just being poor and homeless. I felt sorry for Azzami, who was always picked on and teased at school, but as Mina soon learned, there was more to him than she thought.

I would definitely recommend this book to children. It certainly touched my heart and shared a powerful message. I would suggest that kids aged around Year 4 to 6 will enjoy this amazing story!

Read Alphabet Soup’s interview with the author of Mina and the Whole Wide World.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Charlotte’s second review for Alphabet Soup. Read another review by Charlotte here. If YOU would like to send us a 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!