Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all you readers and writers out there. We’ll be taking a break now until just after Christmas …

But don’t go too far away. From 27 December until 31 December we’ll be posting lists from some of our Junior Reviewers — their favourite reads from 2013.

May you find books and creativity in your Christmas Stockings! Merry Christmas from Alphabet Soup.

~ Rebecca

Christmas, National Year of Reading

Winner of The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas

Thank you to everyone who entered our picture book + CD giveaway.

We put all the names in a basket and drew the winner this morning. And the winner is … spog 777. We’ve emailed you, so please check your inbox and email us a postal address so we can post your prize!

Merry Christmas everyone! We’ll be back in 2013. (In the meantime, if you know any young writers or artists who would like work published in the kids’ work section of the magazine, you can download the guidelines from our website.)


Giveaway: The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas

The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas by Colin Buchanan ill. Glen Singleton, Scholastic Australia, ISBN 9781742833675

Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas (cover)

This picture book is an Aussie take on well-known Christmas song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’—and all set in the Australian summer with illustrations jam-packed with Australian flora and fauna. The picture book comes with a bonus CD of Colin Buchanan singing the familiar tune. (Of course, it gets stuck in your head, but that’s what makes it so sing-along-able.)

FIVE RUSTY UTES! FourfootyfansThreemeattraysTwojackaroosAndaplatypusupagumtreeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

A fun Aussie Christmas book that family members of all ages will enjoy (and possibly groan about) together. (There’s a page at the back of the book with a list of things to look out for, too.)

Merry Christmas!


We have one review copy of The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas to give away. (The twelve days of Christmas start with Christmas Day, so you’ll still have plenty of days to belt out the tune and read the book even if the copy doesn’t arrive before Christmas Day!)

Just leave us a comment with the name of your favourite Christmas carol in the comments section of this post. (Make sure your email address is in the details section when you leave your comment—or email us after you’ve commented so we can contact you if you’re the winner). Entrants outside Australia welcome—but we will only post the book to an Australian address, so you’ll need to nominate an Australian address for us to post it to if you win.

The giveaway ends 6am WST (that’s when it’s 6am in Perth, Western Australia) on 24 December 2012. We will announce the winner here on Soup Blog by noon on 24th and attempt to get it in the mail to the winner on the same day. Immediate family members of Alphabet Soup magazine employees are not eligible to enter. This is a random draw.

Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Matilda, Christmas

Book Review: Heipparallaa!

Heipparallaa! by Liliana Stafford, ill. Elina Järvinen, ISBN 9781921136306, Windy Hollow Books

Reviewed by Matilda*, 6, WA

Heipparallaa! (cover)

Heipparallaa means almost hello. This book is about two girls sending emails to each other. One lives in Finnish Lapland in the snow, and one girl lives in Australia. They write about what they are doing. It’s December. One place is snowy and one place is hot. Both girls are telling each other about Christmas in their place. Maaria lives in Finnish Lapland and she said that they make ‘new bread’ called uutisleipä. Alidia goes to Carols by Candlelight.The best bit was the imagination when the girls pretend to send sun and fruit and the cool wind to each other.People who like writing letters and people who like imagination would like this book. I wish that I was the Australian girl and I had a penpal. I think this book is good for kids 6 to 14.
"Undercover Readers Club logo"* Matilda is a member of our Undercover Readers Club. (Download information about the club on the magazine’s website.) Matilda reviewed her own copy of Heipparallaa!
Christmas, info

Last-minute Christmas orders!

Magazine covers

From today until 21st December 2012 all orders to Australian addresses will be sent via Express Post at no extra charge.

Prices: Single copies are only $8.20, a 1-year subscription (4 issues) costs $29.80 and a 2-year subscription (8 issues) costs $50.00. All prices include postage and handling.

Order online with a credit card on the magazine’s website.

Your shipping will be upgraded to Express Post at our office automatically, you do not need to enter a code when you order.

issue 17 (cover)
Have you read the current issue?

Author visit: Dimity Powell

Today we welcome Dimity Powell—Dimity is a children’s author on a blog tour to celebrate the launch of her new and Christmassy chapter book, PS Who Stole Santa’s Mail?

PS Who Stole Santa's Mail (cover)

Before we hear from Dimity, here’s a bit about the book:

When the post boxes of Bramblebury mysteriously begin to disappear, Sam has just weeks before the biggest day of Santa’s year to discover what’s happening to all the Christmas mail. And then his sister vanishes too. Will he be able to find his sister and save Christmas, along with Santa’s reputation, before the Delivery Book closes for the year?

What he needs is a Christmas miracle.

Can you describe your book in five words or fewer?
Presents, elves, mayhem—it’s Christmas!

How did you get your idea for the book?
The original manuscript was the result of an assignment for a Writing for Children Course back in 2008. The idea came from a newspaper article about how a local council was rumoured to take away post boxes on the Gold Coast, decreasing their numbers dramatically. I thought this would make a good light-hearted mystery novel based on the question ‘what if all the post boxes in a small boy’s town suddenly and inexplicably disappeared just two weeks before Christmas?’

Why do you write for children?
I delight in writing for children, especially those in the ‘golden age’ of independent reading. They believe in magic and that anything and everything is possible, while still being hard to convince. It’s challenging and rewarding.

Is your main character a bit like you?
Yes. He is a firm believer in Santa Claus, as am I (hand on heart). Apart from that, I’m not as good on a scooter as Sam and I don’t hang out in shopping plazas much.

How did you become a writer?
Like most people, I went to school first. My happy place was in the world of books and reading, and spending long hours penning stories about lost ponies. In English class, I loved composition exercises the most. And to this day have never forgiven my Year 8 English teacher for ‘losing’ a story which had taken me weeks to perfect—an anthropomorphic tale about ants. Even at the age of 12, I suspected foul play. I never got it back and am still wondering why …

What do you like best about the main character?
Sam is a likeable 8 year old whose main mission in life is to ask Santa for his first really big present, his own bike. I love Sam’s determination to track down the missing post boxes, and rescue his little sister and the missing Christmas mail. He shows grit and courage but would not succeed at times if it weren’t for his close bumbling friend, Tobii. I’d like to have a mate like Sam; not too overbearing, not too perfect, but steadfast.

Did you have to do any research for this book?
I confess, I have never actually made it to Lappland, current residence of Santa Claus, but I have been to his birth place in Turkey, if that counts.  Santa’s Winterworld is based on documentaries, articles and pictures I have seen and read of his Lappland home.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour:

17 Nov Kids Book Review

18 Nov My Little Bookcase

19 Nov Sheryl Gwyther

20 Nov Morris Publishing Australia

21 Nov Kathryn Apel

22 Nov Elaine Ouston

23 Nov Renee Taprell

24 Nov Alison Reynolds

25 Nov Buzz Words

26 Nov Christine Bell

27 Nov Dee White

28 Nov PIO

29 Nov Alphabet Soup [you’re here!]

30 Nov Angela Sunde

Christmas, info

Summer issue coming soon!

The summer issue of Alphabet Soup is only a few weeks away. We can’t wait to show you the cover by the winner of our design-a-cover competition! As you know, the theme for the summer issue is Medieval. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find inside:

  • Q&A with Norman Jorgensen, author of The Last Viking
  • WA fencer Ben Peden
  • Poems, stories and book recommendations
  • Writing tips from the Book Chook.

… and lots more!

Magazine covers
Subscribers receive four copies per year

Christmas subscriptions: Light to post and perfect for kids who love books and creative writing! Let us know if you’re ordering a subscription as a gift.  You can request that the first copy be posted to you (so you can wrap it to put under the tree) or we can post it to the recipient with your message attached on 20 December 2011. Simply add your message in the ‘message to seller’ box if ordering via our website. Or email our editor with your instructions/message.

Plus, subscribers with an Australian delivery address go into a draw every issue to win a $200 book pack. The book pack for our summer 2011 draw is provided by Scholastic Australia! (Note: books in pack may differ from those pictured.)

Books from Scholastic Australia
Subscribe and go into a draw for a $200 book pack!

Keep reading and writing!

Rebecca (Editor)

Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Pippa, Christmas

Book review: Quentin Blake’s A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Here’s a review from one of our Undercover Readers—just in time for Christmas!

Quentin Blake’s A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, ill. by Quentin Blake. ISBN 9781843651215, Anova Books.

"Quentin Blake's A Christmas Carol (cover)"Reviewed by Philippa, 9, WA.*

In this book, a crotchety old man, Ebenezer Scrooge discovered the true meaning of Christmas. But only after he is haunted by three ghosts!

It is written in an old-fashioned style but I like it, it’s a really good story. I especially love the illustrations. Quentin Blake is a great illustrator. My favourite illustration is the Ghost of Christmas Present because he looks a bit like Santa Claus.

I think that 9 to 99 year olds would like this book.



"Undercover Readers Club logo"*Philippa is a member of our Undercover Readers Club. The book reviewed here is Philippa’s own.



Christmas, teachers' resources

Even more Christmas books!

Well, there are only 7 sleeps left until Christmas day!

At this time of year, when I’m reading books to my children at bedtime, we always have at least one Christmas-themed book and (as we’re running out of days to talk about them) I thought I’d list a few all in one post!

One book that we continue to pull out since my eldest daughter was little is The Nativity, illustrated by Julie Vivas. It uses text from the Authorised King James Version of the Bible to tell the Christmas story and the illustrations really glow and make this a wonderful book. (You might know her illustrations from other books, like Possum Magic, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and Our Granny, or many others!)

We also love Twelve Days of Christmas by Rachel Griffin. It comes with a CD of the song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and each double-page spread in the book covers one day of the twelve days. Each page has photographs of brightly-coloured embroidery showing scenes from that particular day – our favourites: the Five Gold Rings worn by an elephant, and the Pipers Piping, who are snake charmers. We love this book and we never get tired of the fun CD, and of course, the twelve days of Christmas aren’t over until Epiphany, so we can keep listening until well after Christmas! (This was published in the UK and my children seem to think that the twelfth day should be ‘Drummers drumming’ and not ‘Lords-a-leaping’, but I don’t know if this is an Australian preference or a Newman-children preference. If we’re singing it along with a piano we go with my children’s preference, but we respect the CD version when we’ve got that on!)

I believe Twelve Days of Christmas is currently out of print, which is A TERRIBLE THING! But I’ve seen it at several public libraries, so you could add it to your ‘must borrow’ list.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark arrived in our house just before December and (you guessed it) is a silly version of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and full of all kinds of dogs doing doggy things. We like to sing ‘Three French Poodles, Two chewed up slippers, and a fat cat in a fur treeeeeee’ very loudly. If you love dogs (and Christmas carols), you will love this picture book. It really is very silly but it’s good fun and has been read quite a few times since it first arrived.

What about your holiday reading? Do you have any Christmas books that you just love and you think we should know about?

~ Rebecca Newman (Editor, Alphabet Soup magazine)

The Nativity, illustrated by Julie Vivas, Omnibus Books, ISBN 1862910529. This book was selected for review from the Editor’s own collection.
Twelve Days of Christmas, by Rachel Griffin, Barefoot Books, ISBN 9781841489407. This book was selected for review from the Editor’s own collection.
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, by Kevin Whitlark, Scholastic Australia, ISBN 9781741694451. A review copy of  this book was sent to us by  Scholastic Australia.
Christmas, info, teachers' resources

A subscription for Christmas!

Alphabet Soup is a magazine about books and creative writing for primary-school aged kids. A subscription would make a fantastic Christmas gift for your favourite young bookworm. (A 1-year subscription only costs $29.80.)

All our subscribers for issue 5 go into a draw for a chance to win a book pack from Fremantle Press, worth $200.00!*

*Books in book pack may differ from those pictured.

Subscribe now to ensure your first issue arrives in time to go under the tree!

Inside issue 5:

  • Kids’ writing competition (win a $20 book voucher!)
  • Q&A with Christine Harris, author of the Audrey books
  • Meet an astronomer
  • Stories, poems and book reviews
  • 6 pages of kids’ writing (kids’ stories, poems, book reviews and artwork!)
  • Writing tips for kids

Merry Christmas from Alphabet Soup!