Posted in poetry, Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Mamie

by Liora, 9, Manhattan, USA

This woman is nice
This woman is respectful
This woman likes rice
This woman is grateful

This woman is funny
This woman is fancy
This woman is as sweet as honey
This woman likes coffee

This woman likes children
This woman gives to the poor
This woman eats lemon
This woman likes to bring me to the store

This woman is my grandmother
This woman has two brothers
I hope she likes to sip coffee in a cafe
Wishing her a very happy Mother’s Day!Photo of coffee and flowers by Ylanite Koppens via

You can read more of Liora’s poetry here. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines.


Posted in National Simultaneous Storytime

Cawdor Primary School with Maracas

Last week Year 6 students at Cawdor Public School (NSW) staged a dramatic telling of the 2019 National Simultaneous Storytime book – Alpacas with Maracas by Matt Cosgrove. We hear their performance was so good they had to do an encore!

Cawdor Primary School students perform for NSS 2019
Cawdor Primary School students in costume for NSS 2019 (Alpacas with Maracas)

National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is an annual event run by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously by children all over the country.

Well done to Cawdor’s fabulous performers!

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Warmth of my Life

by Anishka, 9, QLD

I know you do the washing up every night.
And clean up all my mess.
You always make us happy,
And still find time to stress.

Thank you for your hugs,
And teaching me how to keep in touch
Even though I never thanked you
I love you very much.

You are so hardworking
Today it’s your special day
We’ll give you whatever you want
On the twelfth of glorious May

I’ll answer all your work emails
And order 50 pizzas from the pizza store
Because I know you like them
I also know you like little cute boars.

You’re the one special mother
Who gets all these gifts from me
Because I am thankful
I might make you some tea.

The tulips in our garden
Do not grow without sunlight
You are their sunshine,
Without you it would be always night.

The honey in the bees’ hive
Wouldn’t be there without you,
For you, gave them loads of flowers
And  a nice sunny area too.

You might be a university student,
Or work for a company of book covers
But there is something you will always be
My happy, loving mother.

One more word for you mum,
There goes another Mother’s day
But remember one thing
I will always love you in every way.

A garden bed of multicoloured tulips.


Anishka is a regular contributor to Alphabet Soup. You can read her earlier work here.

Posted in authors

Meet the author: Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Today we are very pleased to welcome Teena Raffa-Mulligan to Alphabet Soup. Teena’s publications for children include poems, short stories, picture books, chapter books and middle grade novels. She has also worked as a journalist and editor. Teena’s latest publication is a picture book called When the Moon is a Smile (illustrated by Amy Calautti). This is a gentle story about a small girl spending time with her dad, who no longer lives with them.

When was your first piece of writing published?
A long time ago! I was a member of an ABC radio club for kids called The Argonauts and I had a poem read during one of their sessions. That gave me the confidence to send it to the children’s page of the Sunday Times newspaper, where it was published. I’m not sure of the exact year, but I think it was maybe 1964. About 10 years later I had my first two children’s stories accepted and they appeared in Woman’s Day magazine.

You write poetry, picture books and novels – how do you know which format will be best when you have a story in your head?
Good question, Rebecca. Usually the story ‘tells’ me and I go along with that. However, sometimes I’ll write what I think is a picture book but then I can’t find a publisher. So I make a few changes and submit them as poems or short stories to magazines and anthologies – usually successfully. Interestingly, my children’s novel Mad Dad for Sale began as a picture book that I couldn’t sell. Catnapped and Getting Rid of Wrinkles also began as picture books.

Your latest book – When the Moon is a Smile – is a picture book. How do you go about writing a picture book once you have the story idea?
I scribble random sentences and paragraphs from anywhere in the story on scrap paper as they pop into my mind. Then I get a clean sheet of paper and divide it roughly into page spreads so I can work out how the book might work. When I finally sit down at the computer, it’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I put all the bits and pieces in the right order and play around with them until everything feels like it’s in the right place.

Drafts of When the Moon is a Smile, a pile of paper with scribbled notes.
Teena’s drafts of When the Moon is a Smile.

Do you have a tip for young writers wanting to write a picture book?
Writing stories is fun. You get to create characters, put them in weird and wonderful situations and then decide what happens next. Don’t worry about whether what you’re writing is an amazing story. Just play with the words. Let one follow another and see where they take you. It’s an adventure.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on a novel called Talibut Vish. It’s about a kid who hires a parent tamer because he’s had enough of trying to sort out his problem parents. At first Mike thinks he’s found the solution to his dilemma. But when Vish becomes less of a friend and more of a threat, Mike realises he has a bigger problem than misbehaving parents. It’s a fun story to write but because I don’t really know what’s going to happen from one chapter to the next, it’s taking me a long time to get to The End. I’m 14 chapters in but I still have no idea how Mike is going to escape from Mr Vish, find his runaway parents and reclaim control of his life.

This interview is copyright May 2019

When the Moon is a Smile will be available from June 2019. Find out more about Teena Raffa-Mulligan and her books by visiting her website:

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Cheese rolling

by Liora, 9, Manhattan, USA

 Photo by Min An from Pexels

“Go, go, go!”  The mascot cheers.
“Crunch” The grass gets run over by all the people rolling all over it, determined to get the cheese.
The referees discuss the game, making sure it’s fair.
While the girl players get their face covered with hair.
“Woohoo, so close, get the cheese!” a fan in the audience cheers.
Players dodge and cheer, run and fall,
tumble and flip, in order to catch the cheese.
Thump!” That’s the sound of  players falling all over each other.
Then someone says, “oh brother.”
They have just figured out that someone found the cheese.

This is Liora’s first poem for Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines.

Posted in Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Jungle Island

Jungle Island Excursion

by Gabriel, 8, NSW

We got on the school bus at 6:00am to go to the ferry which was waiting for us to sail to Jungle Island. On the bus I could see lush green grass and golden kangaroos.

After the first hour on the school bus the teacher gave us one pack of cookies each. I munched on the cookies while I looked at the scenery.

After three hours we stopped and walked aboard the ferry. The ferry had three floors. The second floor was where the driver sat and snacks were kept. Mr. James our teacher pointed out that on the horizon you could just see the island. I spotted two leather-back sea turtles, five green sea turtles and one school of dolphins.

After two hours, we set foot on ground again. We unloaded our bags from the ferry.

Jack (my partner) and I set up our tent.  After everyone had finished setting their tent, all of us went trekking in the jungle. We each had to pick up a fruit that looked interesting, then study it. We saw many birds, monkeys, water-dragons and salt-water crocodiles. After an hour trekking in the jungle it was lunch, so we went back. We had a tropical and seafood smorgasbord. There were mangoes, pineapples, squid, octopus, prawns, kiwi, bananas, salmon and hundreds of other types of food.

Next, was the break so I waded in the water. The water was cool. I also saw some hermit crabs.

After that we went snorkelling, where there were many different colours of coral. I also saw angel fish and one baby humpback whale very far away. Jack and I swam with some dolphins that were friendly, then we pretended to be some other animals like octopus and crabs. After an hour we came out of the water.

Next, we went kayaking. Jack and I were on a kayak together, where I was at the back. We were told not to go close to the coral because coral takes hundreds of years to grow. The water was so clear that I could see the sea bed! There were fish all shapes, sizes and colours. Many small fish swam in the shade of all our kayaks.

We kayaked under four caves. There were many huge rocks in the middle of the river. It would already take a lot of effort to go against the current but even more to turn the kayak. We kayaked for two hours which really made me tired.

Later, we had dinner, which was a barbecue. There was grilled fish and grilled squid. After dinner, I snuggled up in my sleeping bag and fell asleep. I was one of the last to wake up. Jack wasn’t in the tent so I asked Bill.

Bill said Jack had already gone to get breakfast so I met Jack there, where we had scrambled eggs and bacon. It was scrumptious.

Later, we went fishing. Jack caught a huge fish and it was one metre long! I caught a small fish and I used it as bait then caught a huge fish. It was a tiny bit smaller than Jack’s fish. After that, instead of using fish, I used earthworms. I caught a fish much bigger than Jack’s. The teacher helped us cook my second fish. Jack and I tried it and it was delicious.

Then, all of us had one hour of swimming to practice. I brought a diving camera and took pictures of fish and coral. I took zoomed in pictures of a sperm whale far away. Most pictures were zoomed in on little fish.

When we got out of the water, it was break time. I quickly used iMovie and made a video of the fish and coral. Then I drew some pictures of fish.

We could have two hours doing anything we wanted but we had to keep close. I wrote a report about Jungle Island and also went diving with Jack.

This is the best camp I have ever been to! I liked kayaking the best! I wish you were here!

Gabriel is a regular contributer to Alphabet Soup. You can read some of his earlier 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 Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: Burning Yuan Ming Yuan October 1860

This poem was inspired by a visit to the Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan) in Beijing, China, and researching the history regarding the burning down of this beautiful palace in 1860.

Burning Yuan Ming Yuan October 1860

by Joshua, 10, NSW

Flames of fire roaring high,
Reaching up to the sky.
Beautiful gardens,
Now all in ruins.
Everything burning.
I am watching.

Something lovely,
Now all history.
Standing there
Just there.
Everything burning.
I am watching.

Locals help,
They don’t yelp.
All ashes,
Many smashes.
Everything burning.
Sadly watching.

You can read some of Joshua’s earlier work here If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!