Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Oxley Christian College

Book review: The All New Must Have Orange 430

The All New Must Have Orange 430 by Michael SpeechleyREVIEWED BY ELVIN, 9, VIC

The All New Must Have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley, Penguin Books Australia, ISBN 9780143788973

Elvin reviewed a school copy of this book.

Yes! It’s finally here! This is a story about Harvey, like every other boy and girl, that wanted the all new Orange 430. Unfortunately, when he tore open the box, he realises that it was actually USELESS. He was ripped off!

A message for children out there to be very careful of what you buy and why you buy it. The illustrations are packed with humour and it’s hard to see everything when you first read it. Recommended for 7+.

Make sure you don’t miss reading this book.


If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Oxley Christian College

Book review: Chalk Boy

Chalk Boy by Margaret Wild and Mandy OrdREVIEWED BY CHARLIE, 9, VIC

Chalk Boy by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Mandy Ord, A&U Children’s,
ISBN 9781760630683

Charlie reviewed a school copy of this book. 

Barnaby, a pavement artist from the streets of Melbourne, started to draw Chalk Boy. He told him how, when it rains he will be no longer! Chalk Boy decides not to be sad and to have fun while he can. Does Barnaby save Chalk Boy when it begins to rain?

This book shows the characters having courage, compassion and kindness. I recommend it for 5+ year olds. Read and see the street art as the story unfolds.


If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Maddie in the Middle

Maddie in the Middle by Julia LawrinsonREVIEWED BY HANNAH, 13, QLD

Maddie in the Middle by Julia Lawrinson,
Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925815931

Hannah received a review copy of this book from the publisher. 

Maddie Lee is in year six, and she feels ordinary and dull. Her best and oldest friend Katy is Head School Counsellor and aiming at an Academic Scholarship. Maddie doesn’t have anything that is hers or anything that is special. Enter a mysterious new girl, Samara.

Maddie in the Middle, the new novel written by Julia Lawrinson, brings together the many aspects and difficulties of life as a young girl, transitioning into high school, to create an enthralling story that will keep you hooked until the very end.

I found that it was so easy to get captivated in the plot, with each chapter ending in a cliff hanger and I was wanting more and more with every word. I just could not put this book down; in fact I ended up reading the whole novel in one night! I found myself feeling the inner emotions of every character and also relating to them, rocking with anticipation as I longed for the conflict to be resolved.

This book moves at quite a fast pace, adding to the suspension and overall feels of the storyline. I think that the author has executed the characters absolutely beautifully. They are relatable and loveable while still being able to construct the main conflicts.

I would recommend this book to ages 12+ as some of the themes are quite emotionally demanding. This would be a great book to read with your children to help them understand some of the main aspects (e.g. divorce, poverty, conflict in friendships).

This would make for a fantastic movie. I would even go as far as to say it is the best psychological thriller I have read this year. I can’t wait to read her next book.


Hannah is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereIf 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: The Australia Survival Guide

THE AUSTRALIA SURVIVAL GUIDE by George IvanoffREVIEWED BY RORY, 7, WA

The Australia Survival Guide by George Ivanoff, Penguin Australia Pty Ltd,
ISBN 9780143796572

Rory received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

The Australia Survival Guide is a nonfiction book about how to survive in the outback. I liked the book because it has lots of fact boxes about different animals. I think this book would suit both boys or girls aged 7 to 11.

My favourite thing about the book is that there is the guide, called Avatar.  Avatar says things to you like,

“So, the Sydney Opera House isn’t really dangerous. Not unless you try to do something really stupid … like climb its roof and fall off.”

I think you should buy this book because I think it would help you survive outdoors in the bush. Three words to describe it are:

  • helpful
  • cool
  • funny

This is Rory’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 Hannah, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Cryptosight

Cryptosight by Nean McKenzieREVIEWED BY HANNAH, 13, QLD

Cryptosight by Nean McKenzie, MidnightSun Publishing, ISBN 9781925227536

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Cryptosight by Nean McKenzie is a wonder-filled adventure that will keep you hooked until the very end. It captures you into a world unlike any other, a world of magical creatures and escapades.

The story starts right in the action where we meet our lovable main characters. Rafferty Kaminski is 13 years old and believes in facts. Unlike his Cryptozoologist father Max, who searches for creatures not proven to exist? Raff’s younger sister Zara is stubborn and determined, aspiring to be a Crypto zoologist, willing to follow in her father’s footsteps.

When Raff’s father decides to take them on a trip to the Flinders Ranges hoping to assist them in their ‘Crypto zoology training’ he disappears and strange things start happening to Raff and his sister Zara. They learn that their father belongs to a secret organisation and that he is in great danger. Raff is reluctantly drawn into the weird world of Cryptozoology as he and Zara follow ‘sightings’ of mysterious creatures around country Victoria. Will they find their father?

Nean McKenzie has outdone herself with this enthralling novel that draws you in with every word. The book moves at a good pace which is perfect for readers of all levels. This book has so many little details and it is so interesting to see the story develop, it almost feels like you are on a detective case yourself. The story really captivates you, making you feel like you are in a whole other world.

I would recommend this book to ages 10-13. Overall a really fantastic read and great for the upcoming holiday reading!


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

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, St Thomas' Primary School

Book review: Cicada

Cicada by Shaun TanREVIEWED BY ADITI, YEAR 6, WA

Cicada by Shaun Tan, Hachette Australia,
ISBN 9780734418630

Aditi reviewed her own copy of this book.

Cicada is a picture book written by Shaun Tan, an Australian author. It is not a very long book, and it has about 30 pages in it. I think the reason we chose this book to read in class is because it is both fanciful and realistic, and you can make connections to the reality that jumps up unexpectedly in our faces every day.

Cicada works in an office. The colours are bland and grey, similar to the other books Shaun Tan has written. The only colours are Cicada’s head and a small green leaf that Cicada eats in the office wall space. He’s isolated and is forced to be controlled by his boss. This setting is important because it shows how quiet and boring the workplace is for Cicada. But, at the end of the book, one page is drowned in vibrant colours to show the effervescence Cicada is feeling when he joins forces with his own kind. Cicada says, “can’t stop laughing.” (Cicada, Shaun Tan.)

The main character, who is also the protagonist, is Cicada. Cicada doesn’t have a name, and is constantly treated terribly by his work colleagues. For example, Cicada says “Human coworker no like Cicada. Say things, do things. Think Cicada stupid.” (Cicada, Shaun Tan) Cicada does not have much self-confidence at the start of the book, and he is just submitting to the loneliness of the workplace. But at the end of the book he starts to gain the control and the courage to leave and escape to the colourful place on the last page, where he meets other cicadas and finally belongs.

The antagonist, on the other hand is more than one person, like in The Lost Thing. In Cicada, the people Cicada work with are the antagonist. They are the reason Cicada feels miserable and he is not moving forward. For example, Cicada says, “17 year. No promotion. Human resources say Cicada not human.” (Cicada, Shaun Tan) And in the book, one of the pictures shows when someone is stepping on Cicada. You cannot see any human’s face in the pictures every time there is a picture of a human. You can only see Cicada. When Cicada left, they will probably never think of him. But Cicada will remember them, even when they’ve been completely awful.

The main conflict of this story is Cicada vs solitude. Cicada is just letting his coworkers control him, because Cicada does not have much self confidence. But Cicada knows he has to find courage if he wants to escape. So when he finally does find that courage, he retires, ready to step into the outside world. Cicada says, “time to say goodbye.” (Cicada, Shaun Tan) But he does not mean saying goodbye to the world, he is staying goodbye to the loneliness and blandness of the workplace.

Cicada has many themes. Such as submission to control (giving in to someone controlling you), resistance to control (not letting someone control you), solitude and loneliness, differences and prejudice. The message of this story is that you should always have patience and wait, because there is something better on the opposite side of the solitude you are facing. For example, Aditi says, “stick to your pride, because there is always something better on the other side.” (‘Work and Pride’, poem by Aditi). And if there is a chance that there is something worth waiting on, take those odds.

I would rate Cicada 4.5 stars because it is very relatable and is not too fanciful, yet it does have a twist of fiction and fantasy. I think the audience towards this book is years 3 and upwards. Even though this book is a picture book, the mood is rather dark, so I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers. In conclusion, Cicada is a great book with many memorable themes and pictures.


This is Aditi’s second review for Alphabet Soup. You can read earlier work by St Thomas’ Primary students here. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: The Little Wave

The Little Wave by Pip Harry

REVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

The Little Wave by Pip Harry, UQP,
ISBN 9780702260476

Kobe received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

This story is about three very different friends: Noah, Lottie and Jack meet in a beach visit.

NOAH is  fearless in the surf. So where does his courage go when his best mate pushes him around? You’ll have to read the fabulous book to find out.

LOTTIE loves to explore and collect facts about bugs, but she doesn’t know what to do about her dad filling her lonely house with junk.

JACK wishes to be a cricket star, but how does he improve on school if he is to see the ocean for the first time? Does he improve? Well, if you wanted to know, the next paragraph tells you the answer.

The author leaves a message that you should always remember which is falling down doesn’t mean you never get up. Well she is totally right because you can read what Jack did to prove it. This book is the right book to buy if you want to learn something or teach someone. So that’s why I really recommend for you to buy this book!

PIP HARRY is the author of young adult novels I’ll Tell You Mine, Head of the River and Because of You, which was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards; the Children’s Book Council of Australia — Book of the Year, Older Readers; and the Queensland Literary Awards. She currently lives and writes in Singapore.


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