Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Amira’s Magpie

REVIEWED BY WILLIAM, 10, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

Amira's Magpie by Kate Gordon and Krista Brennan

Amira’s Magpie by Kate Gordon, illustrated by Krista Brennan, Wombat Books, ISBN 9781925563986

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

“He sings to her, too, and she knows his language.”

Amira’s Magpie is a slow-moving, gentle book of imagination and longing. Amira imagines her magpie flying across the world, to visit her homeland and the family she left behind. From this, and through both words and pictures, we are left to imagine her story.

This book isn’t very long, but it doesn’t need to be, because every thing you need to know comes from the beautiful illustrations and your imagination.

I would recommend this book for people who can read beyond the words, and feel that the character is their own self.

I rate this book: 5 stars.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is William’s first review for Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Charlotte, Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Mina and the Whole Wide World

REVIEWED BY CHARLOTTE, 11, WA (IONA PRESENTATION COLLEGE)

Mina and the Whole Wide World by Sherryl Clark and illustrated by Briony Stewart

Mina and the Whole Wide World by Sherryl Clark, illustrated by Briony Stewart, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9780702263231

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

This is the story of Mina, a young girl, and her parents one day decide to take in a refugee boy. At first, Mina is shocked and upset, but when the boy, Azzami, moves in, she starts to discover his full story …

This heart-warming and emotional story is wonderful and easy to read. I thought that using the idea of a refugee child was sure to make people think about refugees differently. After reading this book, I learned that there are more to refugees than just being poor and homeless. I felt sorry for Azzami, who was always picked on and teased at school, but as Mina soon learned, there was more to him than she thought.

I would definitely recommend this book to children. It certainly touched my heart and shared a powerful message. I would suggest that kids aged around Year 4 to 6 will enjoy this amazing story!

Read Alphabet Soup’s interview with the author of Mina and the Whole Wide World.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Charlotte’s second review for Alphabet Soup. Read another review by Charlotte here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Beaconsfield Primary School, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The White Ship

The White Ship by Jackie French, Harper Collins Australia, ISBN 9780207197987

The White Ship (cover)

REVIEWED BY MIKAELA, 11, WA

 The White Ship is an interesting book written about one of the difficult times in France. It was published in 2002 by HarperCollins Publishing and written by Jackie French. Jackie also is the author of Hitler’s Daughter, which, like The White Ship, is historical fiction.

The White Ship tells the story of Michel, a young French boy who lives on an island of the coast of France. The story is set in the period of Queen Catherine who announced the execution of all Protestants in France. When Michel and his island are threatened, he and the rest of the children embark on the White Ship, to find a new country where they can be safe. The days are long and repetitive. When the Captain continually sails past the same island that no one except himself and Michel can see, Michel realizes there is something strange going on.

The White Ship was well written, though it started off dull. Jackie French describes well and brings Michel’s journey to life. By the middle of the story it urges readers to read on and solve the mysteries hidden in its pages. One could tell by reading the story that the writer had done good research and knew her topic. The start of the story was slightly gruesome, as it describes the executions, so I would recommend it for years eight and above. Overall the story was an intriguing one and I was impressed by Jackie French’s good writing, though the story takes a while to really grab the reader’s attention. I was disappointed with the aforesaid slow beginning; I believe that for a writer as talented as Jackie French she would have understood that grabbing readers’ attention is an important aspect of story writing.

I think that The White Ship is an interesting piece of work. Jackie French explained problems that occur in modern day Australia and old issues from the 16th century, France. I was pleased with her descriptive language and research. Overall the book was impressive though some parts were disappointing for an author such as Jackie French.

This is Mikaela’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. (You can read another review of this book earlier on the blog.)

If YOU would like to send us a book review of your chosen book, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review — Refugee: the Diary of Ali Ismail

Refugee: The Diary of Ali Ismail by Alan Sunderland, Scholastic Press, ISBN 1865049190

refugee (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

Joseph borrowed this book from his school library.

Refugee is the diary of a 14-year-old boy who leaves his parents in Afghanistan to get freedom in Australia. He arrives on a boat that almost sank during the journey. It’s not easy for Ali when he gets to Australia either — he’s sent off to Woomera, which is a detention centre. Will he ever be free from Woomera and live a normal Australian life?

I didn’t know much about refugees other than bits I had heard on the news and I was interested in this story. I’d read some other My Australian Story books and when I was looking for some more on the library shelf I came across this one. I like books written as a diary because it feels like it’s really from that person’s point of view and it seems like Ali’s story is actually true. This was a great book. It was quite a long one too, and I learned that sometimes children are refugees all on their own and it’s so hard for them.

This book is pitched at boys and girls who don’t mind books that aren’t humorous. Kids that like history, current affairs and books about human rights would like this book. It’s best for readers aged 11+.

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