Posted in authors, interviews

Samantha Wheeler and Devils in Danger

MEET THE AUTHOR

Samantha Wheeler fell in love with animals when, at the age of six, she received a tortoise. She went on to study agriculture, work with dairy farmers and teach science, until writing her first children’s book, inspired by koalas, in 2011. We’re thrilled to be able to chat to Samantha about her latest book, Devils in Danger.

From the publisher:

Killarney discovers a wild Tasmanian devil, denning under the house! Killarney is excited, but many of the locals are terrified. When rumours about dangerous devils begin spreading, Killarney is determined to protect her precious visitor. But can she convince an entire town these wild creatures are worth saving?


Have you ever seen or heard a Tasmanian devil in the wild yourself?

You bet! I first had the idea for writing this story when I saw Tassie devil footprints and scats on a path I was walking on in the Tasmanian wilderness. I was so excited, but sadly didn’t get to see that particular devil. Once I’d started planning the book though, I went back to Tassie and watched wild devils eating a carcass in the dark. It wasn’t as disgusting as it sounds, it was amazing! Killarney gets to do this in Devils in Danger and I know just how excited she would have felt! They are beautiful creatures, especially their red ears.

How did you know when you’d done enough research to start writing Devils in Danger?

 I usually go and find out what the issues are for the particular animal first (Tassie devils in this case) and what my main character needs to do to help them. This gives me a rough idea of what the story might be. Then I begin to write but always find I need more details, like how big are the animals when they’re 3 months old, 6 months old, adults, what do they eat, what do they smell like, how many teeth do they have etc. So these details I usually have to google or go and see the animals, or ask an expert once I’m already writing the story. There’s always a lot of research to do, so luckily I love it.

Do you have a favourite Tasmanian devil fact?

Absolutely. I think the fact that they are creating their own immunity to facial tumours is simply incredible. They are saving themselves. So clever. But a funny fact is the pongy smell they emit when they’re frightened, kind of like a skunk. Who would have thought? They look too cute to be stinky.

How much do you find you need to change in a book, from first draft to final draft?

Oh my goodness. Nearly everything! My first few drafts are usually very bad and I have to change them a lot to make the story any good. One thing that happens with me is that I have too many ideas and can lose the central theme of the story by going off and getting distracted by little subplots. It’s often hard to know what I’m really trying to say. It can be a little frustrating but it’s worth it in the end.

Can you tell us about your next writing project?

I’m playing with a few ideas. I’d love to write another one like this about sharks (I feel really sorry for them, they need our help) and I’m also writing a junior fiction series about a family who inherit a farm but are useless at farming. It’s so cute. Then there’s a  story I’m working on about a boy who gets left behind on a tropical island. So many ideas!

Devils in Danger is out now! Ask for it at your favourite book shop or local library.


AWESOME EXTRAS!

Read a sample chapter from Devils in Danger

Download the Teachers’ Notes for this book

Visit Samantha Wheeler’s website for more about her and her books

Devils in Danger by Samantha Wheeler
Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Oxley Christian College

Book review: Koala

Koala by Claire Saxby and Julie Vivas. Image: picture book with blue sky background and an illustration of a koala in the crook of a gumtree branch. REVIEWED BY CINDY, 7, VIC
Koala by Claire Saxby,
illustrated by Julie Vivas,
Walker Books,
ISBN 9781925126396

Cindy read a copy of this book in her school library.

A koala mum ignores her own little baby koala and says ‘Climb, little koala, it’s time to find your own way’.

Why can’t Koala jump back into his mother’s pouch now? Will his mother come to save him if he falls off the branches on his way to find his own home?

This book is a story about a young koala and his mother advising him about what he should be able to do as he’s growing up.

The book has the extra features of non-fiction text and a poem on each page.

I recommend this book for kids who love koalas, particularly kids who are 3-7 years old. I give this book a rating of 8 out of 10.


If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: Amazing animals of Australia’s national parks

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

Amazing animals of Australia's national parks.Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks by Gina M Newton, National Library of Australia, ISBN 9780642278883

Matilda received a copy of this book from the publisher.

In this nonfiction book about Australian animals, there is one page for each animal with the headings:

What is it?

Where does it live? and

What is its life like?

I like the way the book is split up into the climates that the animals live in and the photographs are extremely professional. There is a ‘how to use this book’ page, which is really helpful for understanding certain symbols used in the book.

My favourite animal in this book was the Rufous Bettong (Aepyprymnus rufescens). This animal lives in woodlands, grasslands and forests.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves animals and wants to know more about Australian animals.


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 book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Oxley Christian College

Book review: Frog Finds a Place

REVIEWED BY BREANNA, 8, VIC

Frog Finds a Place

Frog Finds a Place by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, ill. Dub Leffler, Omnibus Books, ISBN 9781742990231

Breanna read a copy of this book in her school library.

Frog wants to fly to the moon and stars to make friends.

One night Frog has a dream, He is with the moon and stars up in the sky, playing games telling jokes, until Old Crow comes along and ‘caws’ at Frog. Frog wakes up from his dream just as Old Crow flies away into the darkness.

Spider thinks that Frog could make a web to reach into space. Possum suggests that Frog could swing from a high vine in the woods. Crow reckons that Frog needs some feathers to fly high into space. Will Frog ever get to the moon and stars?

This book is about a frog who has a dream that he can’t achieve on his own. However, when he finds help, his hope grows like ours does when we have faith in an opportunity to try and achieve.


This is Breanna’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Oxley Christian College

Book review: Emu

REVIEWED BY ANTONY, 9, VIC

Emu (cover)

Emu by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Graham Byrne, Walker Books Australia, ISBN: 9781922179708

Antony read a copy of this book in his school library.

Emu is a very interesting combination of fiction and nonfiction. It’s about an emu’s birth and its life. There are lots of fun facts, predators like lizards and adventures like running away from circling eagles.

Did you know that:

emus will only fight if cornered. They will peck with their strong beaks or strike out with their clawed feet.

The story is set in the outback in spring. The main character is a male emu who is protecting his chicks. Will they survive?

The detail and illustrations are mind blowing. Readers will wonder how the illustrator made the drawings so realistic.

I think this is a really astonishing book for children aged 6 and up who want to learn more about emus and their lifestyle in a fun way.

Antony attends Oxley Christian College and this is his first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Check out more reviews of Emu in earlier posts.

Posted in Beaconsfield Primary School, book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Emu

REVIEWED BY ANNALIESE, 11, WA

Emu (cover)

Emu by Claire Saxby, ill. Graham Byrne, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781922179708

The book Emu is a great book, it is a story about an emu and its eggs and some great information about emus e.g. its features such as height, weight and its defences. The story Emu is based on Emu and how his eggs grow up: like where, when, the setting and life with Emu.

Mostly the story is on the left and the information is on the right, therefore it is a very organised and a well set out story. I recommend this book for any 9 to 12 year old children that are interested in the book. It has great illustrations that definitely suit the text.

I liked how the book was something you could use as research, you could pull it out of the bookshelf and read it to know, learn or use the information for an assignment. It’s got heaps of great information.

The book is a different book but it has better features than others. The illustrations work really well with the text.

This is Annaliese’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Beaconsfield Primary students, you can click on ‘Beaconsfield Primary School’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!