Book reviews by Rebecca

Book review: Sophie Scott Goes South

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester, ISBN 9780670880683, Penguin Group Australia

The reviewer borrowed this book from the library.  

Sophie Scott Goes South (cover)

Sophie Scott is nine, and she’s going to Antarctica with her dad—the captain of the Aurora Australis. It will take two weeks to get there, and they will be staying at Mawson Station for a week before coming home.

This is Sophie’s diary of her trip. But it’s sort of a scrapbook about Antarctica—as well as her diary entries, Sophie includes a detailed map of the ship, and photos of it, too. She describes (and draws) the special cold-weather clothes she has to wear and talks about the strange sounds and sights she sees from the ship. I love the drawings of the people on the ship and at the crew at Mawson Station and also the drawings of the animals and the environment in Antarctica. Many of the pages also feature snippets of information about the history of Antarctic explorers, and facts about the continent and the creatures that live there. (Did you know that an iceberg that sits just under the surface of the water is called a growler? Or that Roald Amundsen from Norway was the first to the South Pole?)

You’ll find a glossary at the end of the book and the endpapers show a map of the world showing Sophie’s journey to Antarctica, and a map of Antarctica from above.

On every page there are interesting things to look at, amazing photos and Sophie’s observations. One of my favourite photos shows a Weddell Seal scratching his nose. I also love the gallery of photos showing the colours of Antarctica. It’s not just white!) Sophie’s journey is based on the author’s own trip to Antarctica and many of ‘Sophie’s’ drawings in the book were co-created with children who read Alison Lester’s online diary entries during her trip. (Children sent the author artwork inspired by the online diary entries.)

This book grabs your attention from the first page. Gallop as quickly as you can to a library or bookshop if you love strange adventures, explorers, sea creatures, ships or Antarctica. Or all of them together!

© March 2013 “Review of Sophie Scott Goes South” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
info, teachers' resources

Activities and a listening list!

Hurrah!issue 7 cover

We have added a new page to Soup Blog called ‘Activities’ (you can find it on the menu across the top of the blog, under the header picture). If you click on it, you will find a list of activities to go with the theme of each issue (starting from issue 7), and a music listening list – compiled by Danielle Joynt of Cantaris.

Check out what’s new for issue 7!

Issue 7 – winter 2010


1. Visit the Classroom Antarctica site! It’s an online teaching resource produced by the Australian Antarctic Division, with activities suited to upper primary school classes.

2. Create some icy paintings. Add some food dye to water and freeze in an icecube tray. Once frozen, use the ‘paint blocks’ to create watery, icy paintings!

3. Hand sculpture. Fill a rubber washing-up glove with water and put it in the freezer. (Check with a parent first!) When frozen, peel or cut away the glove and you have a frozen hand! (It looks good as a centrepiece for a winter-themed party.) How does it feel? How do you think it would feel to be an ice maiden (or an ice boy)? Perhaps you could write a poem or a story about it? When you are finished admiring your ice hand, leave it in the garden to melt away.

4. a) Create your own paper snowflake: Younger children

  • Cut a circle out of white paper.
  • Fold your circle in half, and in half again and snip tiny shapes along the folded edge.
  • Then fold it one more time (still keeping a flat ‘cone’ shape) and cut out some more tiny shapes.
  • Open the circle out and admire your patterns. You can cut shapes along the outside edge of your circle to make it more like a snowflake if you like.
  • Glue your snowflake onto some dark-coloured cardboard.

4. b) Create your own paper snowflake: Older children

Visit the WikiHow site for instructions on how to create your own 3D snowflake!


Our listening list is compiled by Danielle Joynt, from Cantaris. Danielle has also included comments for some of these pieces. (Tip: Ask about CDs at your public library – libraries often have a good collection of CDs for loan if you prefer not to buy.)

1. ‘Antarctica’ by Nigel Westlake, Australian composer (1958 –     ).Out of the blue (album cover)

He wrote two versions – both beautiful:
‘Antarctica (The Film Music)’ for the IMAX film of the same name and
‘Antarctica – Suite for Guitar and Orchestra’ (a reworking of the film music)
found on the CD Out Of The Blue (ABC Classics, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Timothy Kain-guitar)

Nigel Westlake was born in Perth and is a very fine clarinettist as well as composer. He has written music for many films including Miss Potter and Babe.

2. ‘Winter’ from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi, Venetian Composer  (1678 – 1741).

‘Winter’ is one of a set of four violin concertos called The Four Seasons. They were composed in 1723, and the concertos vary in texture, according to the season each represents. ‘Winter’ contains lots of high, sharp notes, evoking icy rain.

Each of the four concertos is based on a sonnet describing a season. No-one knows who wrote the sonnets – but it is widely held that  Vivaldi  was the poet.  You can find an English translation of the sonnets online (scroll down to find the ‘Winter’ concerto and sonnet.)

3. ‘German Dance’ K605 No.3 ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian Composer, (1756-1791)
Mozart began writing dances when he was five years old. There are over 200 dances written by Mozart that are still preserved.

4. ‘The Snow Is Dancing’ from Children’s Corner by Achille-Claude Debussy, French Composer (1862 – 1918).
Children’s Corner is a suite of six movements for solo piano written by Debussy in 1908 for his daughter Chou-Chou, who was three years old at the time.

5. ‘Water Under Snow Is Weary’ by Eha Lättemäe and Harri Wessman.

This beautiful choral piece is based on the Kalevala melody in the Finnish folk tradition and was especially written for Finland’s famous Tapiola choir. The Kalevala is a book and poem  compiled from Finnish and Karelian folklore – it is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature.

6. The Snow Maiden by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Russian composer (1844-1908).
Rimsky-Korsakov wrote the music and libretto (words) to this four-act opera in 1880 and 1881. The ‘Dance Of The Tumblers’ is a famous piece of music from this opera.

7. Ngo Wak Tö Wal-lah Yah – Alaskan Eskimo Chant

8. Winterreise (Winter Journey) by Franz Schubert, Austrian Composer (1797-1828)

This  is a song cycle of 24 poems by the German poet Wilhelm Müller set to the music of Franz Schubert .