Young Writers in Action

Young writers in action: On my way to Brazil

by Owen, Eden Lake Elementary, Minnesota, USA.

Letter, writing indecipherable. Photo from pexels.comDear Brother,

​I am on my way to Brazil right now — I can’t wait to go to the Amazon Jungle for my photos, and the waterfalls. I am currently right over the Amazon eating some wonderful Mexican because I left from Mexico City. I will tell you once I land and send you some pictures from Mexico City …

“Attention, there is some turbulence ahead!”

Right after the announcement i feel something bounce. All the cabin crew start running to their seats. At this point everyone is freaked out, especially me — I have $5000-worth of camera equipment in the overhead bin. All of a sudden I see nothing but black emptiness and a fiery ball


At this point there is nothing I can do. This plane is full of chaos!


The plane is submerged. I feel a sharp pain in my leg but I know I have to get out before it’s too late. So I swim. I feel for the exits. I can see light on the ground when my eyes are closed, I follow those. I reach the exit. I swim up and once I break through, I release a giant breath of air. I lie down on the river bank and just lay there, listening to the animals. I check the pain in my leg. It’s my own pen I was writing to my brother with, and when I pull it out I wrap something around it so it doesn’t bleed excessively.

I sleep until morning and get woken up by the sounds of a waterfall. The rainforest is very green, with long vines that spread among the trees, and I even see a little monkey, which is so small it’s like the size of my hand.

I try climbing this giant tree to try to locate civilisation, but as far as I can see there is nothing but dense forest. So because I don’t have the energy to move on, I started making a shelter. I used the vines to tie sticks together to elevate myself off the ground, because I knew there were lots of bugs and ants. After that, I tied it so it would hang from trees. The river that was next to me, I used for water. For my fire I use some rocks I found and sticks and I grab some pots that fell out of the plane, that had washed up ashore. I boil my water so it wouldn’t harm me, because that would be the last thing I want to happen. I lie down, happy at what I have done so far but I am really hungry.

The next morning I set off looking for food but this rainforest is practically impossible to get through fast. I try to quietly sneak up on a giant frog so I could eat it. I leap at the frog and grab it, it’s so slimy but I know I can’t let go. I make a fire and cut it with a piece of glass I found and cook it. While eating, it was about noon I knew I had to go. I think I see a giant tower in the distance. I run to it, up close it is covered in moss like it was abandoned, but I would have assumed it was for airplanes. I climb up on the ladder, once I get to the top I see (or at least I think I see) a little village right in the middle of trees. With smoke coming out! I run down and run over, but these aren’t ordinary people. They try to kill me!

I start sprinting away. I cut my face on a branch and just keep running — but there’s another problem … I have to cross a river. I look back. I see them! I jump into the water and swim. Is this the same river the plane crashed in? I don’t have time to be thinking, I need to swim and get out of the river.

I think I lose them. I make it out of the river and hide. I go back to that river at night and see an alligator. If he was there only four hours earlier I would have been lunch for him! I think I see bright lights in the distance. I run towards it … in fact it is bright lights from a city. I ask for directions and I make it to the airport, and then … made it to Rio.

This is Owen’s first story published with Alphabet Soup. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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!)

Book reviews by Kailani, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Spectacular Spencer Gray


The Spectacular Spencer Gray by Deb Fitzpatrick

The Spectacular Spencer Gray by Deb Fitzpatrick, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925164671

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

Spencer Gray is just an ordinary kid, he lives in a family of four, goes to school at his local high school, hangs out with his mates and plays football at break time. But one day, while retrieving a football from the bush behind the oval he sees a man run off, almost like he had been disturbed and then the sound of a motorbike. Spencer is suspicious so he decides to figure out what is going on.

From that day on, Spencer’s life changes — secret rescue missions, midnight bike rides and dangerous situations. All to save one of Australia’s most endangered marsupials.

I don’t normally read books with strong male characters, but this book was different. It combined the element of adventure with the Australian bush and caring for animals and nature. I also really liked the vivid description that the author used in the book, it really painted a picture in my mind of every scene, helped to build the tension and made me want to read on.

I recommend this book for boys and girls aged 10–14, especially if you enjoy mystery, adventure and looking after Australian wildlife.

[You can read a sample chapter from the book via the publisher.]

We are pleased to welcome Kailani back as a reviewer at Alphabet Soup. Check out Kailani’s earlier reviews here. Kailani also has her own blog!

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


The Amazing Spencer Gray (cover)Read a review of the first book in the series — The Amazing Spencer Gray — in a post from 2013.









Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Secret Island


The Secret Island by Enid Blyton

Joseph reviewed his own copy of this book.

The Secret Island by Enid Blyton, Hachette Children’s Books, ISBN 9781444921106

This is an intriguing adventure story about four children from two farms who are all treated very badly. Together Mike, Peggy, Nora and Jack plan to escape to a secret island in the middle of a lake. They have to survive alone and be prepared if someone comes looking for them!

Some of the best aspects of the book are the description of the island, and when Jack goes to market. Enid Blyton really made me feel as if I was on the secret island drinking cool spring water. And when Jack went to market, I was always on my toes and thinking Jack might be caught.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I love adventure books where basic survival is needed. I would recommend this book to readers who love an adventure book where you want to turn every page! It would be suitable for children aged 8 and over.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Letters and Numbers. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!