Autumn 2013 writing comp winners

We had so much fun reading through all your entries about superpowered mums. Congratulations to these three winners (and their super amazing mums!).

Under 7s winner — Genevieve C, QLD

Mum’s Magic Red Rocket Shoes

My mum can fly. Yes that’s right she can fly because she has red high heeled rocket shoes!

Mum flies to help people.

When there were bushfires, mum helped the firemen and flew in the air with buckets of water to put out the fires.

But Mum had an accident last month and her heel broke walking down the stairs at school. All the rocket fuel leaked out. Her rocket shoes stopped working.

Mum needed to get her rocket fuel shoes fixed. The rocket shoes were made in China.

Mum could drive to China but it is a long way and there are no bridges.

Mum could go on a plane but that would take a long time.

Because I am only small I told Mum I could wear one of the rocket shoes and fly to China to get it fixed.

But I have never been to China and don’t know how to speak Chinese. How would I know where to go or what to do?

I called my best friend Holly because she lived in China before she moved to Brisbane. I asked her to come with me.

Holly and I flew to China that afternoon.

We saw the Great Wall of China.

We saw the factory where they make Apple iPads.

We saw a jewellery shop and then we saw the shop that sells rocket shoes. They told us where to find the shop where they fix rocket shoes.

Holly and I flew back home with Mum’s rocket shoe fixed.

Now that Mum has her red rocket shoes fixed she helps people in trouble again.

She flew a little girl who broke her arm at gym straight to hospital.

Mum moved the boats in the Brisbane river when the big floods came.

And Mum was flying over Stradbroke Island and saw a dolphin washed up on the beach. Mum flew down and flew it back to its mother. Everyone on the beach clapped and cheered when they saw Mum do this. I am so proud of my mum and her amazing red rocket shoes.

If you are ever in trouble, don’t worry because my mum will fly and help you!

Under 9s winner — Isabella L, NSW

Maid Mum

I’ve got a mum with super powers and they are … to clean the house really quickly! And this is how I know:

One day I was on my way out of the house. The house was a pig-sty. You see my dad’s job is a shop keeper at an antique shop and nearly nobody goes there so dad brings back stuff that has been there ‘forever’. So, our house is basically full of old bits and pieces.

Anyway, so I’m going out to Jessica’s house (my best friend) for about an hour or two when I see Mum writing down today’s list, my gosh it was long! There were jobs like hanging up 11 rounds of washing, putting on the dishwasher 6 times and other crazy things. I thought she was writing a list for the whole year.

So very amazed I walked out of the house. I told Jessica about the list, she was as surprised as I was. After all the gossip we played Wii sports for an hour and soon enough Jess’s mum got a call for me to go home. I said goodbye and started my journey home.

On the way I remembered the list and power walked the rest of the way home. When I got home I realised the house was all tidy. After a while I told Mum I needed a shower because I was all sweaty from playing Wii. On my way down to the bathroom I quickly ran into Mum and Dad’s room. On Mum’s bedside table I saw her list all ticked off.

After dinner I went to bed. When Mum came in to say goodnight I asked her about the list.

‘I’ve had super powers since you were born,’ she said. ‘You gave them to me!’

‘That’s good,’ I said. ‘Now I don’t have to tidy up!’

So that’s how I know my mum has superpowers and why our house is usually neat and tidy.

Thank you for reading my true story about my mum!

Under 12s winner — Daisy M, NSW

My Mum’s Super Power!

It can be frightening at the top of The Great Dividing Range. The weather can change quickly; one minute a glorious day and within an hour the weather can close-in with black clouds engulfing our farm. When this change occurs we head home to be safe.

We have warning if we listen and watch the animals. The cows huddle together voting on what the lead cow is saying. The horses also gather for safety, neighing to discuss the weather change.

While riding with Jack, the sky was getting darker. The horses were scared, wild eyed and galloping home. No time to take the horses to the shed, it was important to be indoors before lightning strikes.

Our parents, on the verandah, helped us inside then freed the horses. I shuddered; the lightning was striking the earth. Our farm in drought; dry grass, thirsty lifeless trees, hungry thin animals, all praying for rain not fire from lightning.

We prayed too hard, the rain wouldn’t stop! The river rising rapidly, the island now inaccessible.

Our foal was shivering and alone on the island. How could this have happened? I suddenly remembered I had been riding the mare, of course she was not with her foal! I ran to every window searching for the mare. She was neighing and searching frantically for her foal.

My mother wondered what was wrong. She assured me that animals have a way of finding each other. I knew she was right but how could the mare save her foal from drowning in the flooded river. The water, swirling around dead debris creating strong currents impossible for a new foal to swim in.

I feared the worst. Then saw a Pegasus in the stormy sky travelling towards the shrinking island where the foal stood still, too scared to move. The foal suddenly lay down! I thought she must be dying. Her eyes flickering, she seemed to understand what was happening. The Pegasus flew down onto the foal and amazingly picked up the foal and cradled her in her four strong legs soaring towards the shed and our herd of horses.

The Pegasus gently laid the foal on the ground. The foal quickly rose on its four legs and cantered towards its mother. The mother ran her nose over her foal, it was now safe.

I wondered for years about this strange event, wondering if I dreamt the happening and many other events where our farm animals were in trouble. After my mother died, she left me a beautiful wooden box in her will. Inside the box was a large white feather … I knew now the meaning of the Pegasus and how it always appeared in times of trouble. I thought, I wished I had known of my mum’s super power. Then, I sighed and whispered to myself, WOW! AWESOME! It was my mum who fixed what seemed impossible! I closed my eyes and wondered if I too might have a super power!

competitions, info

What’s ahead

Ferris Wheel © 2013 Rebecca NewmanWe’re still on school holidays here in WA (we seemed to start our holidays later than the rest of you this time around) and we still have one more week to go! One of the best things about school holidays for me (apart from not having to make school lunches) is being able to read lots more books. I usually try to fit in a bit of extra writing, too. When my brain isn’t so busy it’s often easier to come up with new ideas …

If you’re on holidays and you need some motivation to get your pen (or keyboard) out, don’t forget to check out our Comps for Kids page for a list of current competitions open to primary-school aged kids.

And don’t forget! Entries for Alphabet Soup’s story-writing comp close on 1 May 2013 (you can email your entry, so there’s still time to get writing about your Mum’s secret super power. Check out all the details here.).

Make sure you visit us again on Wednesday — we’ll have James Foley visiting to talk about his work as a writer and illustrator.

And for the rest of 2013 we’ll be sharing lots of our favourite classic poems (my friend calls them ‘oldies but goodies’) — along with all the usual book reviews, author and illustrator interviews and YOUR fabulous stories, poems, book reviews and artwork.

Did you read any books over the holidays? What would you recommend? Do you have a favourite poem? Let us know in the comments!

~ Rebecca

competitions, info

Autumn 2013 writing comp for kids


Entries close 12 April 2013 1 May 2013 (deadline extended)

Write a story about your mum’s secret superpower. It might be an imaginary superpower, like flying. Perhaps her secret superpower is that she can grow the biggest tomatoes, can kick a football further than anyone in the world or always knows the time without looking at a clock. What’s YOUR mum’s secret superpower? Word limit: 500 words. (It’s OK if your story is shorter than this but don’t go over the word limit!)

Download an entry form from the magazine’s website (and you can read the terms and conditions there, too).

[update: Please note that this competition is still running, even though the print magazine has closed]


Summer 2012/2013 Writing Comp Winners

Thank you to all the writers who sent us an intriguing first line for a mystery story. Some of you sent a whole list of first lines! With such great openings, we really hope you go on to write the rest of the story …

Here are the winning first lines:

Under 12s—Ethan, WA

There was a blinding light followed by a bang, then silence.

Under 9s—Julia, QLD

Ni … Nor … Ni … Nor … Ni … Nor … screeched the police car as it sped around the corner, at top speed.

Under 7s—Jordyne, NSW

I was watering the flowers when I saw something glowing in the soil.

If you’d like to enter our autumn 2013 writing comp, keep an eye on the competitions page of the magazine’s website or check out the Kids Comps page on this blog. Good luck!

competitions, National Year of Reading

Summer 2012 First Line competition


If you were about to write a mystery story, what would your first line be? Send us only the first line of your story—make it irresistible!

You can send us as many first lines as you like. You can write your first line(s) on the back of your entry form. An entry form may be printed from the website (see competition rules), photocopied, or contact us to have one emailed or posted to you. (If you send us an entry and a few days later you send us some more first lines, you will need to include another entry form to go with your extra lines. We get quite a few entries and we can’t always match up stray writings with their entry forms!)

Your entry can be handwritten or typed. Make a copy of your entry as we cannot return entries.

A $20 book voucher is awarded to the winner in three age categories: Under 7s, Under 9s, and Under 12s.

Find more writing and art comps on the Comps for Kids page.

competitions, poetry

Spring Writing Comp winners (2012)

We read some outstanding poems in our spring writing competition and we’re thrilled to be sharing these winning poems with you. Congratulations to the three winners!

UNDER 7s WINNER—Leith Bradbury


Hungry hungry black crow,
High up in a hollow tree,
Glides down to the bottom of the hill
And grabs worm from happy crow.
Happy crow is now angry,
Scratching and pecking,
Biting and tugging,
Screeching and chewing,
All day long.
Then angry crow has an idea.
He nips the worm in half and gobbles his half.
He gives the other half to black crow.
They become friends.

[Inspired by the painting Fighting Crows, by Shaun Tan]

UNDER 9s WINNER—Veronica Hester


In the Northern Suburbs,
On a light green field,
Two crows get in a fight.
Black bodies twist and twirl,
Feathers fly to the sky.
A crow falls to the ground.
No mercy for the wounded crow,
He dives and flies away,
Leaving the crow to cry his anger to the sky.
Another crow watches the scene inscrutably,
On a quiet afternoon in the Northern Suburbs.
Where the black billowing shapes of trees,
Shadowed from the sun,
Have the colour of the Fighting Crows.

[Inspired by the painting Fighting Crows, by Shaun Tan]

UNDER 12s WINNER: Sophia O’Brien


A Young Child

A street bathed in afternoon shadow.
The grass is yellow green.
Time is unchanging and he sees the whole world at once.
The clouds can be touched by the hand.
Trees are poles with clouds on top.

Ten Years Later

Same old street that never changes.
Grass and trees, houses and clouds.
He wants to go to more exciting places, see more exciting things.
He wants to see something more than that suburban street with its straight path and quiet houses.

[Inspired by the painting Footpath, Fifth Avenue, by Shaun Tan]

Well done Leith, Veronica and Sophia!

If you’d like to enter our summer writing competition, keep an eye on the competitions page on our website. Good luck!


Winter Writing Comp winners! (2012)

Congratulations to the three winners from our 2012 winter story-writing competition.

UNDER 7s WINNER—Finn Canham

The Great Escape

One day there was a fluffy rabbit called Caramel. He saw the most fattest and juiciest orange carrot!

He came up with a plan. The plan was that he dug 1 metre down. Then he put his plan into action. But there was a rock, if he went around it he would lose his path so he dug up but there was a rock. He had to go backwards and dig up.

He ran over to the orange carrot and he realised it was so big that he couldn’t carry it home so he ate half of it. Then it was the size of two orange carrots. That was good because the rest of his family was two other rabbits. Caramel was the only baby they had.

He carried it back down the burrow and went home. Then they enjoyed their lunch, it was orange carrot soup.


The Desk

I am waiting in anticipation for the classroom door to open. It’s the start of 2012 and I’m starting Grade 4. My ex-best friends are hanging out with Belinda. Since we had a fight in Grade 2, they have been ignoring me. My new teacher comes into the classroom.

“Sorry class, I left the key to the classroom in the staff room!”

Yes, Mr Brown’s class. He is the funniest teacher in the whole school. I’m crossing my fingers that I have a great desk. Back in Grade 2, I scribbled in my desk but my teacher caught me. I closed my desk and gave my most innocent smile. When I opened it, the scribble had disappeared! Believe me, it’s creepy!

The best bit is hunting for your desk at the start of the year. My teachers always place our nametags on the desk to let us know where we are sitting. I open my orange desk and guess what I saw? That’s right, I saw the scribble I made in Year 2. How queer. The teachers must have misplaced the desk when they were cleaned at the end of last year! I sigh thinking of the times I had in Year 2. Sitting at my old desk has made me nostalgic. If only I was wiser back then. If only I could send my young self a message to wise up. I sigh again and wrote myself a note:

Dear Bonnie,

You might not believe this, but I am actually you 2 years older. I remember having trouble with friends in Year 2; so, if you have any trouble, feel free to ask me for advice!

Signed: Bonnie from Grade 4.

I shut my desk thinking how silly I am trying to write to my 7-year-old self. After I have prepared my stationery for the day, I open my desk to retrieve my book to read and I am flabbergasted by what I see. The letter that I wrote to my old self has disappeared and in replacement is a reply with my 7-year-old writing, big and messy.

Dear Bonnie,

I made a mistake. Now my friends don’t like me anymore. I was trying to have fun and when Emma was about to sit down, I took her chair away. She fell and started crying. Help me think of a way to make up for that joke.

Love Bonnie.

Hmm … I have to help young Bonnie think something to repair our friendship again.

Dear Bonnie,

Write a sorry letter to them or make a sorry card. Otherwise they might hate you for not saying sorry.

Love Bonnie.

After news session in class, I go back to my desk and find another note:

Dear Bonnie,

Thanks for all your help. Cassie, Emma and I are best friends again.

Love Bonnie.

Emma and Cassie run towards me and give me a big bear hug. They hold my hands and for the first time in a long time, I feel popular.

UNDER 12s WINNER: Ellie Rose Fisher


The sun’s strong, amber fingers found their way through the skylight, onto the cheek of the sleeping girl. Elizabeth Fleckfeather stirred and opened her sea green eyes. She could hear the sea churning and birds singing their songs to the morning, see her room—a jumble of books, socks and swimming awards—feel the warmth of the sun on her cheek and smell salt and books by her bedside.

Elizabeth sprang out of bed and to her dressing table. She scraped her hair into a scruffy bun, pulled on her moss green swimming costume and woke her dog, Rosie, from her wickerwork basket. The girl and her dog sprinted downstairs to the back door, where she unlatched the handle and pushed.

A wave of fresh, salty sea air came through the door and greeted the girl. Elizabeth thought she would never tire of that smell, salty and fresh of the sea. She skipped down the gravel path, flanked by silver birch and olive trees, her dog running silently at her heels.

She came to the dunes, took the rabbit track she wanted and found herself on a rocky cliff top. She went down the rivulets the rain had made in the rock; all the way down to the beach. There the sun sparkled on the water as if it were made of crystal and the sand of crushed diamonds. Elizabeth dived into the ocean. The sea was so very cold and the girl shivered in delight as it penetrated her skin—it was a lovely sensation and one she would never, ever tire of.

Elizabeth swam deeper and deeper into the sea, nearer and nearer to the old shipwreck. She’d heard tales of the old shipwreck—that it was haunted, the sailors’ bones were still down there, that it had the power to suck you under the water. Elizabeth had always disregarded these tales and dived near the old wreck every day. This day was no exception.

The wreck was slimy with seaweed and algae and was covered with lichen and moss. Shells like coils of toothpaste and white paint flecked the ship, which was crumbling apart at the planks. Small crabs and other creatures scuttled in and out of the port holes—glass now gone from age and sea water.

Elizabeth dived into the wreck, under the deck, swimming through curtains of tiny, bright orange fish and dodging several long wavy black eels—deeper than she had ever been before.

Below deck it was gloomy and she could only see a few centimetres ahead of her, so it was not very surprising what happened next.

Elizabeth was just about to leave the murky depths, when it happened. There came an ominous whooshing sound from the corner, where a large hole rotted. Elizabeth looked over her shoulder and the sight that met her eyes made her scream. Water filled her mouth and she was sucked into the hole—out of this world.

Well done Finn, Celine and Ellie Rose! These three talented writers have received a certificate and a $20 book voucher.

If you’d like to enter our spring writing competition (or the 2012 design-a-cover competition), check out the competitions page on our website. Good luck!


competitions, info

2012 Design-a-magazine-cover comp (tips!)

Alphabet soup runs a cover-design competition every year. The 2012 competition is now open and entries close 16 September 2012.

Here are the covers done by our 2009, 2010 and 2011 winners, K Larson, A Hatton and E Nolan:

"Issue 5 cover (winner of 2009 design-a-cover comp)"

"Alphabet Soup magazine issue 9 cover"

Issue 13 cover

Now we’re looking for a winning design for our summer 2012 issue!

Here are some tips for all you budding artists.


Using any materials you like, design a cover for Alphabet Soup magazine.

Important – your artwork must be on one side of a sheet of white A4 paper. Make sure the paper is portrait orientation. Do NOT include the Alphabet Soup logo. And we’d prefer it if the paper wasn’t folded (but if you’ve already folded it, that’s OK!)

Entry to the competition is free. You may enter as many times as you like, but each entry must have a competition entry form with the declaration signed by you and a parent. (Entry forms can be printed from the website, or contact us to have one sent to you.)

The winner’s artwork will be used on the cover of the summer 2012 issue of Alphabet Soup magazine (out in November 2012), and the winner will receive one copy of the summer 2012 issue and art supplies worth $20.

The theme for the cover is: AT THE CARNIVAL/FAIR.

You can interpret the theme any way you like. You could show a whole fairground scene or you could focus on one particular item/event/person/activity you would find at a carnival or fairground. Artwork can be realistic, or abstract, or collage, or cartoon-like, or any style you choose. It must be your own work and it must be original (no tracing pictures!). Remember that the magazine’s readers are aged 6 to 12.

Our covers don’t usually have a lot of unused white space. If you draw one item in the middle of the page and nothing else, it would be tricky for us to turn it into a cover for the magazine!

There will be one winner chosen. By entering the competition, you agree to us using your artwork on the cover of the summer 2012 issue of Alphabet Soup magazine. We cannot return entries.

Download an entry form from the Alphabet Soup website.

We can’t wait to see your artwork!


Writing comp (WA)

Warm up those typing fingers—here’s a competition for 8 to 12 year olds in WA.

720 ABC Perth are calling for entries of short stories of no more than 500 words with the trigger of RADIO. Radio must be incorporated somewhere in all stories—whether it is a major part of the story, or it is literally mentioned in the story, it must be featured in some way.

And there are some amazing prizes!

MAJOR PRIZE: Return flights and accommodation to Melbourne (ex-Perth) for the winner and a parent or guardian (includes transfers and meals), $50 spending money, a day of tours at Scienceworks, the National Sports Museum and Melbourne Zoo, special guest representing WA as the Young Reading Champion at the National Reading Hour in Federation Square.

2nd PRIZE: Your height in books!

3rd PRIZE: ABC Shop Gift Voucher

The competition closes on 5 August 2012.

Check out the 720 website for more details and info on how to enter.