Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Matilda

Book review: The Endsister


The Endsister by Penni Russon

The Endsister by Penni Russon, A&U Children’s,
ISBN 9781741750652

Matilda reviewed her own copy of this book.

The Outhwaite family is a carefree Australian family but when their father inherits a huge house over in London, the whole family moves. Clancy, the twins, and even Else have to settle into their new lives, and Sibbi knows what an Endsister is …

I really enjoyed The Endsister. It had wonderful twists, and I really liked how small things turned out to be important. The characters were really relatable and lovable, especially Clancy’s new best friend, Pippa.

I would recommend this story for readers 10 years and older who like spooky books, haunted houses, and books about families.

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!

authors, poetry

Pass the book baton: Lorraine Marwood


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 Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning writer of novels, verse novels and poetry. You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Kylie Howarth asked:
Which poem or book you have written means the most to you?

Lorraine Marwood answers:

Ah, a perennial question that is often asked and at different stages or times in my writing journey there would be different answers.

Of course my first book picked up way back in 1999 part of the superdooper series ‘Rainbow Toes’ was a very exciting experience — even when the editor said I had to work on my ending before it was accepted. I was determined and still love this book today.

Or I could chose my first verse novel with Walker books Ratwhiskers and Me which allowed me to explore my love of history and my love of poetry in a fast paced narrative.

Then again I could choose my second verse novel Star Jumps, which was written in tears and shows life on a real live dairy farm as drought hits. This novel won the inaugural children’s section of the Prime Minister’s literary awards. So I love it because it celebrates my children’s growing up years and because it validated me as an author.

Or it could be my latest manuscript written last year at a May Gibbs literary fellowship in Brisbane. This one is close because it touches on grief — again another verse novel.

And poetry? I love writing poems mainly for children but continue to write literary poetry and be published in this genre too.

My latest collection Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry was a challenge to write, to research different celebrations (because I believe poetry should reflect facts as well as emotion) and to construct the poems in different ways.

A favourite poem from this collection was one on Christmas. My editor didn’t quite like the poem I’d already written and said to write a new one. I did, about a boy chosen to be the donkey in the nativity play, although he had no idea of what was going on — his friend Tiff kept explaining all the way through until he surprises himself and the reader right at the end. I love it when the right tone comes through for me and then the poem flows. Funny how my writing reflects my life because when I’d written that poem (the editor loved it by the way) my grandson was selected to be the donkey in his preschool play!

As my life continues on with many unexpected twists and new horizons, I love that my writing can help me adjust to new situations, to find meaning and to share this with my readers.

Poetry has the power to express what is on the inside and this is sometimes hidden to the poet too. So each new direction I take produces work which reflects that and looking back each poem or story contains the essence of that experience. So there are no favourites in my writing, just deep gratitude that writing is what I must do no matter what.

For more info about Lorraine Marwood and her books and poetry, visit or check out her blog

All the Lost ThingsAnd now Lorraine Marwood passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Kelly Canby. Kelly is an author-illustrator living in Perth, WA.

Lorraine asks:
“I see you do illustrations for a range of children’s genres, as well as colouring books!  Can you tell us a bit about your illustrative journey and what you’d passionately love to draw in the future?  Thanks.”
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
See you next week!








Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Australian Kids Through the Years


Australian Kids Through the Years

Australian Kids Through the Years by Tania McCartney, ill. Andrew Joyner, NLA Publishing, ISBN 9780642278593

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

Australian Kids Through the Years is an easy-to-read, informative, and beautifully illustrated picture book about Australia’s history. It is taken from the point of view of kids from different time periods.

The book has a different era every four pages — the first two include a brief description, and the next two are a setting from the era.

This book feels light in mood. The illustrations are much like colourful cartoons, with clear yet complex pictures. You might recognise the illustrator from Too Many Elephants in This House (a picture book written by Ursula Dubosarsky). My favourite pages in the book are the 1990s — everything seems modern but it’s still different from how things are now.

At the end of the book there is a summary of each time period, including photographs and paintings from each time.

I like that you can extract lots of information really easily. This is a great book for kids aged 7+ because of the easy language and because it’s fun to read.

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


Issue 2 out next week!

Issue 2 of Alphabet Soup magazine is at the printer’s –  you’ll be reading it by Wednesday 18 February!Alphabet Soup issue 2 cover

To subscribe (only $29.80, including p&h), or to order single copies, go to

If you’re in Western Australia and prefer to buy through a store, Westbooks children’s bookstore should have this issue in stock by 20 February. You can find Westbooks at 396 Mill Point Rd, Victoria Park, WA.

authors, info

Subscriptions for addresses outside Australia

Alphabet Soup magazine now has online ordering  for local (Australian) and overseas addresses! (Go to and click on the subscribe tab.)

Issue 2 will be out next week! Inside you’ll find: a Q&A with Duncan Ball, what’s cool about scuba diving, stories, poems, book reviews, crossword, kids’ writing, our issue 1 competition winners, and a new writing competition for kids.

Don’t miss it!


Reading Challenge

Now everyone is back at school and settling into first term, it must be time for a spot of reading. Or several spots.A spot of reading

If you live in SA, you can take part in the 2009 Premier’s Reading Challenge, SA.

If you’re in Vic, you have the 2009 Premier’s Reading Challenge, Vic.

And if you’re in NSW, you’ll be after the 2009 Premier’s Reading Challenge, NSW.

Happy reading!