Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young writers in Action: Some way or Another

Some way or Another
by Liora, 11, Manhattan, USA

I am from the cozy, soft, white chair in my room
From sports fields and good books
I am from climbing, swinging, and running everywhere
And from “We need to sign Liora up for this sports class”
And “Stop putting your leg up everywhere.”
I am from the sweet, juicy pineapple that I love
Whose tingling sensation makes me feel warm on the inside
I am from the gymnastics mats where I’ll do Acro for hours
And dancing and stretching lots of places I go
I am from Ari (who’s always optimistic)
And Brigitte (who loves to walk)
I am from my mom’s banana chocolate chip muffins
And my dad’s famous, creamy Wacky Mac
I am from these moments when it’s all laughter and smiles.

Children on swings at a park. Image courtesy

Read more creative writing from Liora hereTo send us YOUR book review, poem, story or artwork: check out our submission guidelines.

Posted in Top Reads

Top reads: September 2020

We’ve come to the end of another month and the arrival of school holidays! Stock up your bedside reading piles with these recommended reads from the members of our Top Reads team.*

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If you’d like even more recommendations, browse all through all our Top Reads ever!

*All our Top Readers are kids aged 13 and under. No grownups allowed!

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

Book review: Fiona Wood, inventor of spray-on skin

Fiona Wood Inventor of Spray-On Skin by Cristy BurneREVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

Fiona Wood: Inventor of Spray-on Skin, story by Cristy Burne, Wild Dingo Press, ISBN 9781925893281

The publisher provided a review copy of this book. 

Smart children will like this book! This is a true story about a famous scientist named Fiona Wood. This book will tell you how Fiona became a great scientist. This story talks about the childhood of Fiona. Like all people, she didn’t get to be a scientist straight away. She had to work hard to be one.

In this fabulous story, Fiona defends the weak ones and fixes the broken ones to fight for her chance to study medicine. The story of the plastic surgeon and spray on-skin inventor, Fiona Wood shows us the value of dreams, hard work and having the courage to do what’s right. This is the inspiring story of spirit and stamina, generosity and courage.

My favourite part about this story is that Fiona works hard on a study and she doesn’t give up because it reminds me that even if I have a bit of trouble with my sport in school, I don’t start giving up. I still haven’t given up yet!

I hope you will read this marvellous book and that you’ll enjoy it! If you think this book is marvellous, have a try book reviewing too! Now what are you waiting for? Go read this outstanding book! I hope you enjoy this book!

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 House with Chicken Legs

The House With Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson and illustrations by Elisa PaganelliREVIEWED BY SADIE, 10, VIC

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, illustrations by Elisa Paganelli, cover illustration by Melissa Castrillón, Usborne, ISBN 9781474940665

Sadie reviewed her own copy of this book. 

Mariska lives with her grandmother, a guardian known as a Yaga, who’s job is to guide the dead through the gate. She knows that one day she will be the next guardian, but she doesn’t want to be a Yaga. She dreams of being with the living and does not like listening to the dead or helping them on their journey.

Mariska’s house has a personality of its own and cares for her and her grandma, Baba Yaga. The house has chicken legs, and like all Yaga houses it gets up and walks somewhere new, whenever it feels like it.
12-year-old Mariska wants nothing more than to have a friend, a friend that isn’t the house. She may be able to play fun games with the house, but she can’t talk to the house about her thoughts and problems or share secrets. So when Mariska meets Benjamin all she wants to do is be his friend. She knows not to cross the fence, but to be with a human is what she has wanted her whole life. But the house ruins it all.

I think my favourite part would be when Mariska gets startled by the sight of a girl her age sitting on the front porch. She said to Mariska that, she doesn’t want to go through the gate and wants to get back home.

This is definitely my no. 1 book this year.

Suggested age: 11+
Rating: 5 stars

Read a sample chapter from The House with Chicken Legs on the publisher’s website. 

This is Sadie’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. 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: Finding François

Finding François by Gus GordonREVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

Finding François by Gus Gordon, Penguin Australia Pty Ltd, ISBN 9780143794141

Kobe received a review copy of this picture book.

Can’t find a book that’s full of love and happiness? Why not jump into a cozy little nook and read this one! Finding François is a brilliant book for everyone to enjoy, you can’t doubt that! A little peek inside this book  will lead to you being stuck to this book for a long time.

To give a tiny clue on what this unbelievable book has inside, this might help a bit: Alice wishes she had someone her own size to talk with. Then one day her wish comes true … Through hope and chance, love and loss, two little ones who need each other, find each other.

Gus Gordon is an award winning author from Sydney, Australia who has written many books like Herman and Rosie, Wendy and many more! In total, he’s written 70 books! That’s amazing!

My favourite part about Finding François was that there was a sad moment where Alice loses something really important, but later meets François. I liked it because it reminded me of when my favourite fish died, until we got a new fish that I loved as much as my old one.

Now you’ve got a brief idea about the book, you can read it! Next, you’ll probably share it with everyone! Have fun sailing a boat with Alice, exploring a lighthouse with François and, finally: reading with your beloved family! Enjoy!

Finding François by Gus Gordon

Read Alphabet Soup’s interview with the author-illustrator.

Take a sneak peek inside the book!

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 competitions

Guinness World Records 2021 (+ giveaway)

We know many of our readers are fans of the Guinness World Records books and with the release of the 2021 edition we’re excited to share a peek at one of the records – a record that’s bookish, and speedy … and involves knocking things down! We’re also thrilled to be collaborating with the publisher for a Guinness World Records 2021 giveaway. *** THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED***

From the publisher:

– Travel through the Solar System and see the planets come to life with a free augmented-reality feature
– Encounter the cutest, weirdest, most dangerous and exotic creatures on our home planet
– Meet the world’s tallest, shortest, hairiest and heaviest humans
– Marvel at the latest high scores, speed runs and players at the top of their game in eSports and beyond
– Get the lowdown on the world’s most successful and prolific actors, musicians, TV stars and influencers
– Review the greatest sports achievements from the past year and celebrate today’s top athletes

Check out this bookish record, featured in Guinness World Records 2021:

Most books toppled in a domino fashion: Kmart Australia took an hour to set up 3000 copies of Guinness World Records — before knocking them all over — at their annual conference on 31 October 2018 in Queenstown, New Zealand. A total of 334 employees took part, beating the previous best of 2500, set by Aconex (AUS) set on 20 July 2017.
Extracted from Guinness World Records 2021, published by Pan Macmillan Australia (available now!)

Want to win a copy of Guinness World Records 2021? We have three copies of the book to giveaway, thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia. Here’s how to enter:

  • Email with GWR2021 in the subject line. In the body of the email state your name.
  • Entries close 11.59pm (AWST) on 28 September 2020.
  • The winners will be contacted by email and we will request a postal address at that time. Winners’ names and Australian states will be announced on Alphabet Soup’s blog on Tuesday 29 September 2021.
  • Entrants must be aged 18 or over (children can ask an adult to enter on their behalf).
  • The prize will only be posted to an Australian address.
  • See Terms & conditions for more information.

Good luck!

Posted in authors, interviews

Claire Saxby on Georgia Ward-Fear: Reptile biologist and explorer


Claire Saxby writes novels, picture books, nonfiction and poetry for children. Her books are published all around the world. This month she launches a new nonfiction book Georgia Ward-Fear: Reptile biologist and explorer, which is Book 2 in the new Aussie STEM Stars series.

From the publisher:

 Georgia Ward-Fear’s conservation journey has seen her travel the world, empower young girls to become environmental leaders, and carry out trailblazing work to save native animals from the threat of cane toads.

An inspiring story of an adventurous spirit whose love of the natural world has made her a STEM superstar.   

Georgia Ward-Fear Reptile Biologist and Explorer

On with the questions!

You’ve written fiction and nonfiction books and poetry on a variety of subjects. Do you have a favourite nonfiction subject to write about?
It seems impossible to have a favourite when there is so many interesting things to explore. Sometimes I write what I’m in the mood to write (and I’m just the same when reading … sometimes serious, sometimes curious, sometimes silly), but mostly the idea dictates the form. I had a story I really wanted to write as a picture book but it JUST WOULDN’T FIT! So eventually I gave in and wrote it as a novel (and it took forever!), but it was right. I’ve learned to follow where the idea leads.

Your latest book is part of Aussie STEM Stars – a new series for kids celebrating Australia’s experts in Science Technology, Engineering and Maths. Had you met Dr Georgia Ward-Fear before you began writing the book?
Georgia and I were paired by the publisher at Wild Dingo Press. We’d not met before. I’d never heard of her before. But she’s just fabulous, and was so generous with her time and her … life! I had to ask all sorts of questions and she trusted that I would know which bits to put in, which bits belonged just to our chats.

How did you go about your research for writing the book?
Firstly, I scoured the internet for information about Georgia. Fortunately, she’s done some things that make her interesting to newspapers and television so I could get to know her a little bit through them. Then I read many of her papers and articles. By then she was already my hero for teaching goannas NOT to eat cane toads. Then I emailed her and we started chatting. Every answer she gave me led to more questions. We met once in person and had some phone conversations. Once I started writing I had more questions! Curiosity was my friend.

What’s different about sitting down to write a fiction and sitting down to write nonfiction?
Georgia is a real person living a real life. She has real family and real friends. I have to be sure that I’m being true to her story. I can make up some things, for example I invented an encounter with a mob of wallabies behind her house, but although I couldn’t 100% be sure it DID happen, I knew enough about Georgia to know it COULD have happened. In a fiction story, I can follow any direction my imagination takes me, as long as I can convince my readers. But both need structure, clear language, and lots of rewrites!

Can you tell us a bit about your next writing project? 
Next year is going to be a busy one. I have three picture books coming out early in the year and there could be another longer work, but I don’t have a firm date on that. The picture books are all related to the ocean. One is funny (Treasure), one is really cool (Iceberg), and the third is thrilling (Great White Shark). I love the ocean, can you tell?

Georgia Ward-Fear Reptile Biologist and ExplorerAWESOME EXTRAS

Visit Claire Saxby’s website for more about her and her books.

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

Book review: Order in the Court


Toffle Towers Order in the Court by Tim Harris and James Foley

Toffle Towers: Order in the Court by Tim Harris, illustrated by James Foley, Penguin Australia Pty Ltd, ISBN 9780143795445

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Toffle Towers: Order in the Court is the third book in the Toffle Towers series. It is about a young manager for a hotel and his name is Chegwin. It is set in a place called Alandale where there are two hotels – Toffle Towers and Braxton Hotel. Chegwin Toffle is the young manager of the hotel Toffle Towers. Chegwin has to figure out what to do when some of the guests’ belongings … disappear! To catch the thief Chegwin makes a talent show and lets everyone know that there is $2,000 to win at the back of the room! Chegwin and his friends go to the back of the room, tie a string to Chegwin’s finger and then tie the string to the prize money (Chegwin will feel a tug on the string when the thief tries to steal the money). But what will Chegwin find out in the end … ?

I like all the funny pictures and strange things in this book. For example there are these funny conversations where there are lots of spelling mistakes (put there on purpose!).

I think this is a good book for you if you are 7–10 years of age and like funny things. I rate this book 10 out of 10.

Read a sample chapter on the publisher’s website. 

Rory is a regular reviewer for Alphabet Soup. Read his previous review of The Australia Survival Guide by George Ivanoff. 

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Nit Boy

Henry recommends NIT BOY by Tristan Bancks and illustrated by Heath McKenzieREVIEWED BY HENRY, 7, WA 

Nit Boy by Tristan Bancks, illustrated by Heath McKenzie, Penguin Australia, ISBN 9781760896300

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Nit Boy was about a boy called Lewis who had lots of nits. He had a teacher called Mrs Horrock. He was never allowed to go to school because of his nits, because the kids in his class caught them from him. Lewis loved his nits, though. They were his pets. Mrs Horrock made up the nit buster to make the nits jump away.

Ned was one of Lewis’s nits. Ned was a jumping nit. Sheena also lived on Lewis’s head and was his friend.

My favourite part of the book was when Lewis played a prank on Mrs Horrock and took his Dad’s insects to school. The bit I didn’t like about the book was how it changed between Lewis speaking and Ned speaking. I thought it was tricky to read when this happened. I give the story 4 out of 5 and would recommend it though.

Check out our interview with the (itchy) author of Nit Boy

This is Henry’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!