Posted in Top Reads

Introducing the 2018 TOP READS team!

We’re thrilled to introduce you to the 2018 Top Reads team.

What is the Top Reads team? Members of this team are keen readers who stop by each month to recommend a favourite read for the month, and they’re all kids like you!


Vivaan, 9, VIC
Vivaan enjoys non-fiction and fiction books with lots of action, as they are intriguing. When he’s not reading, Vivaan plays cricket with his dad and badminton. He likes discovering interesting new words using the Rocket Speller app on his iPad.

Matilda, 9, NT
Matilda likes to spend her time reading, writing, drawing and swimming.  When she’s not doing her other hobbies she likes to have adventures and spend time with family and friends.

Xavier, 9, NT
When he’s not reading, Xavier enjoys riding his bike, swimming and playing soccer and touch rugby. He is also obsessed with video games! When he grows up Xavier wants to be a scientist.

Lewis, 9, WA
Lewis loves reading, particularly entertaining/funny books and adventure stories. When he isn’t reading he loves soccer, swimming, music, star wars, Lego and playing with his younger brother.

Tirion, 8, VIC
Tirion’s hobbies are gymnastics, singing and dancing. Her mum started reading chapter books to her when she was 2 years old.  Tirion remembers Enid Blyton books like the Famous Five series and The Magic Faraway Tree. Spy and adventure novels are her current favourites. Tirion loves reading because it helps her wonder.

Céití, 8, WA
Céití loves spending time with her chocolate labrador Flynn. She enjoys all sorts of reading and writing, playing her violin, cooking and playing water polo. Her favourite series at the moment is Harry Potter.

Anishka, 8, QLD
Anishka loves writing poems. She started composing her own poems when she was 4 years old. She loves to play with her friends. She is also involved in raising funds for Heart Research and Foundation through ‘Jump Rope for Heart’.

Albie May, 6, NSW
Albie May loves funny books — like Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (which is about a vegetarian piranha) as well as books with made up words in them.

Look out for the first book recommendations for 2018 on the last day of February!

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: The World

A photo of trees, viewed by someone standing beneath the tree canopy and looking up. Photo courtesy of

by Siddh, 7, QLD

Who made the sun shine so bright?
Who made dust extra light?
Who made the trees so tall and green and who made the mighty raging sea?
Who made the world spin so fast and who made the desert so long and vast?
Well God’s the one who made it all
so thank God every morning when you hear the angels call.

Siddh has had poetry published with us before. You can read more of his work here.  

If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Kailani, Book reviews by kids

Book review: DRAWN ONWARD


Drawn Onward by Meg McKinlay and Andrew FrazerDrawn Onward by Meg McKinlay, ill. Andrew Frazer, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925164848

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

DRAWN ONWARD is a palindrome, meaning it can be read from the start or the end and still make sense. One way you read this book, the character starts by being sad and depressed but ends up hopeful and happy, but if you read the book from the other direction the character starts happy and hopeful, but then something changes their perspective and they are sad and depressed.

Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer have been very clever when writing this book, making it a very enjoyable story. The font and illustrations are very decorative making the book interesting to look at.

I would recommend this book to 9–13 year old boys and girls.

See some sample pages on the publisher’s website.

Kailani regularly reviews books for Alphabet Soup. Check out all of Kailani’s book reviews. Kailani also has her own blog!

If YOU would like to send us a book review, refer to our submission guidelines. Happy reading …

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

Book review: The Book of Secrets


The Book of Secrets by AL TaitThe Book of Secrets (The Ateban Cipher book #1) by A.L. Tait, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9780734417671

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

The Book of Secrets is the first in The Ateban Cipher series. It’s about a young monk who has been living in the abbey all his life, and has never been outside the abbey walls. Then he finds Brother Benedict bleeding and maybe dying, and Brother Benedict hands him a book. What is the secret of the book? Why is it in a code he can’t distinguish? And who is this Aidan he has to take it to?

I loved this book because at first it seems magical and absurd … but it could actually happen. My favourite character is Gwendolyn, because she is determined and independent, and does everything to help other people. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next book in the series.

I would recommend this book for readers aged 9 and older who love fantasy and adventure.


Read the first chapter!

Teachers notes, available at the publisher’s website.

Read an interview with the author.

Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. You can read Matilda’s other reviews here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Recommended reading, Top Reads

Top reads: November 2017

This is the LAST Top Reads for 2017 (and it’s only a tiny bit late — sorry — our editor has been off sick).

At the end of each month (from February to November) members of our Top Reads team recommend fantastic books. This year the list has included audiobooks, graphic novels, novels, joke books, picture books, and nonfiction titles.

A big thank you to everyone on our team for this year*, we’ve loved seeing your recommendations. (Keep an eye out in February when we’ll be introducing our 2018 team.)

Add these to your Christmas wishlist or visit your local library — get set for some great holiday reading …

You’ll find a recommended list from our Top Reads Team on the last day of every month (February to November). If February seems too far away, you can check out all the Top Reads posts ever.

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

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Jen Banyard


It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to Jen Banyard!

Jen Banyard at the beach

Jen Banyard lives in Western Australia and writes fun adventure stories, including the Riddle Gully series. Her books have been serialised in the West Australian newspaper.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Jackie French asked:

Why do you write?

Jen Banyard answers:

You could say there are three main reasons I write. One is that when I write I feel I’m having the kind of experience I’m giving my characters. If I’m writing a sad part, I feel sad, a scary part, scared, or a funny part, happy. So when I sit down to write I’m giving myself lots of feelings and ‘experiences’ I wouldn’t otherwise be having that day.

Also, when you write stories you start looking more closely at the things going on around you—I mean really looking. Otherwise your stories miss the little details that bring them alive. Have you ever seen one of those nature films where everything is magnified and slowed down? Well, that’s what writing is like—it turns you into a giant magnifying glass and everything you see is more vivid and significant. (When I’m mid-sentence, though, a bird could poop on my head and I wouldn’t notice!)

Lastly, there’s the big buzz you get from creating something, be it building a raft or baking muffins. You’re in control of the story and you get to say how it turns out. You have all these parts—an idea, some images in your head—and gradually you file them down and shuffle and shape them into something people want to read. It’s awesome!

Read more about Jen Banyard and her books at her website:

and …

Read an earlier Alphabet Soup interview with Jen Banyard (from 2012!).

Gary by Leila RudgeAnd now Jen passes the book baton to our last Friday visitor — Leila Rudge. Leila Rudge is a writer and illustrator. Her books feature artwork in pencil, paint and collage.

Jen asks:

In your books you’ve painted ducks, bears, pigeons, dogs and skunks. If you could take all the best bits from the animal characters you’ve created, what would your animal look like?

(While you’re waiting for Leila’s interview you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)

Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Jackie French


It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Jackie French, photo by Kelly Sturgiss
Jackie French (photo by Kelly Sturgiss)

Today the book baton is passed to Jackie French. Jackie French is an ecologist, the author of more than 200 books, and the 2014–2015 Australian Children’s Laureate (and 2015 Senior Australian of the Year!).

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Sherryl Clark asked:

What are your best or favourite research tools for your historical novels?

Jackie answers:

Old letters, newspapers, advertisements, paintings of the time.

Old diaries are great. People don’t lie in diaries.

Archeology surveys on the ground or by satellite.

Inscriptions in pyramids.

Ancient Viking rubbish tips.

Depends on the book. Incredible fun, like the best detective investigation in the universe. You never know where the trails will lead. Plus you get to play in a dozen different times with no danger of dying of the bubonic plague or getting your head sliced off by Vikings.

You can check out Jackie French’s website for more about her and her books: Or read a 2015 Alphabet Soup interview with Jackie here

Riddle Gully Secrets by Jen BanyardAnd now Jackie passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Jen Banyard. Jen Banyard is the author of adventure stories, including the Riddle Gully series.

Jackie asks:

Why do you write?

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. (While you’re waiting you can catch up on all the interviews in the Pass the Book Baton series so far!)