info, National Year of Reading

Autumn Issue – out now!

You can crumple it, fold it, cut it, write on it, post it, paint on it, roll it into a scroll, make collage with it … and so much more. What are we talking about? Paper! Our autumn issue was posted to our loyal subscribers yesterday—and it’s all about paper.

Alphabet Soup issue 14 coverHere’s what you’ll find inside issue 14:

… and more!

Subscribe via our website (you can order single copies from the subscribe page, too). If  you’re in WA, rush in to one of our WA stockists—Westbooks (Victoria Park) and Zero to Ten (South Fremantle) who will have copies of the autumn issue to sell you from Tuesday 21 February 2012.

Happy National Year of Reading!

Christmas, info

Summer issue coming soon!

The summer issue of Alphabet Soup is only a few weeks away. We can’t wait to show you the cover by the winner of our design-a-cover competition! As you know, the theme for the summer issue is Medieval. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find inside:

  • Q&A with Norman Jorgensen, author of The Last Viking
  • WA fencer Ben Peden
  • Poems, stories and book recommendations
  • Writing tips from the Book Chook.

… and lots more!

Magazine covers
Subscribers receive four copies per year

Christmas subscriptions: Light to post and perfect for kids who love books and creative writing! Let us know if you’re ordering a subscription as a gift.  You can request that the first copy be posted to you (so you can wrap it to put under the tree) or we can post it to the recipient with your message attached on 20 December 2011. Simply add your message in the ‘message to seller’ box if ordering via our website. Or email our editor with your instructions/message.

Plus, subscribers with an Australian delivery address go into a draw every issue to win a $200 book pack. The book pack for our summer 2011 draw is provided by Scholastic Australia! (Note: books in pack may differ from those pictured.)

Books from Scholastic Australia
Subscribe and go into a draw for a $200 book pack!

Keep reading and writing!

Rebecca (Editor)

teachers' resources

Activites for issue 11

Issue 11 cover, Alphabet Soup magazine


for Issue 11—WINGS

1. MAKE paper butterflies. Use a square of colourful paper or cut up some junk mail. Make concertina folds—fold the top edge of the paper down towards yourself in a thin rectangle. (Don’t fold the paper in half, that fold is too big!). Flip the paper over so that the folded side is now face down on the table and at the bottom of the page. Fold the bottom of the page up, so that the previous fold lines up with it. Flip the paper over again so the folded pieces are now face down on the table and at the top of the paper. Fold the paper from the top again and continue folding and flipping until the whole page has been folded like a concertina. Then pinch the rectangle at the centre and twist a pipecleaner (chenille stick) around it to hold it tight. The two ends of the pipecleaner will be the antennae. Fan out the wings a little. And make twenty more! (Perhaps you could attach them all to a coathanger to make a mobile.)

2. FOLD painted butterfly pictures. On a blank piece of paper, dab some blobs of paint around the middle section of the paper. Fold the paper in half (with the paint on the inside) and gently press it flat so the paint inside squishes about a bit. Open the paper and inspect your butterfly painting! (Great for cards or use as wrapping paper or stick on the fridge!)

3. PAPER AEROPLANE RACES: Grab some friends and check out a paper-aeroplane website to learn how to fold your favourite paper aeroplanes and then have a competition to see whose design is fastest or flies furthest or looks the coolest. (Record your predictions about which one you think will fly furthest, and write down the distances each plane flies. Then you might even convince your parents or your teacher that paper aeroplane flying is educational!)

4. GET BAKING!: Make some butterfly cupcakes. Try this recipe for cakes with wings, or this recipe using marshmallows and sour worms might be more your style. If butterflies aren’t your thing, can you think of a way to adapt these recipes to turn them into bat cakes or owl cakes?

5. READ some wing-themed books! For upper primary kids, we like Cicada Summer by Kate Constable, Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, for lower to middle primary kids, try The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, or Duck for a Day by Meg McKinlay and if you love picture books you could try The Truth About Penguins by Meg McKinlay & ill. Mark Jackson, The Story of Ping by Majorie Flack ill. Kurt Weise or the nonfiction picture book Australian Owls, Frogmouths and Nightjars by Jill Morris & Lynne Tracey. Or read ‘The Six Swans’ folktale in the current issue of Alphabet Soup (or the poems also in the current issue!). Can you think of any others?


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.)


“Flight Of The Bumblebee” is a piece written by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera “The Tale Of Tsar Sultan”, composed in 1899-1900.

The piece is played at the end of Act Three, where the magic Swan-Bird changes the Tsar’s son into an insect so that he can fly away to visit his father (who does not know he is alive).

In 2010, the violinist Oliver Lewis broke the record for the fastest performance of “Flight Of The Bumblebee” – playing it in 1 minute and 3.356 seconds.


“The Butterfly Lovers” is a violin concerto co-written by Shanghai Conservatory of Music students Gang Chen and Zhanhao He in 1958.

It  premiered to great acclaim in 1959, but was then declared decadent five years later during the Cultural Revolution – and both composers were imprisoned. Their “crime” was attempting to fuse Western instrumentation and tonalities with traditional Chinese melodies.


The music for the ballet “Swan Lake” was written by  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The story is thought to be based on “The Stolen Veil” by the German author Johann Karl August Musäus and the Russian folktale “The White Duck” .

The premiere performance in 1877 was not a huge success.

The Russian ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya – for whom the role of Odette was originally intended – was removed from the performance, when a government official in Moscow complained about her, stating that she had accepted several pieces of expensive jewellery from him, and then married a fellow dancer – selling the jewellery for cash.

The dancers, decor and orchestra were all unanimously crtiicised, and Tchaikovsky’s music was considered too complicated for a ballet. His music was decried by critics as too noisy!

After Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893, the Italian composer Riccardo Drigo was granted permission by Tchaikovsky’s brother Modest to revise the music for the ballet’s revival.

It is Drigo’s revision of Tchaikovsky’s score of Swan Lake that is the most often performed and recognised today.


A traditional English folk song printed in the song book “Melismata”, compiled and published by the English composer Thomas Ravenscroft  in 1611. It is also known as “Twa Corbies” (“Two Ravens” or “Two Crows”) and most often sung to the Breton melody – “An Alarc’h” (“The Swan”).

The American scholar Francis James Child (appointed Harvard’s first ever Professor of English in 1876) included these versions in his  monumental five volume collection of English and Scottish ballads – The Child Ballads – released between 1892 and 1898.


“Le cygne” or “The Swan” is the thirteenth movement of “The Carnival Of The Animals” by Camille Saint-Saëns.
The famous piece features a solo cello.

This is the only movement from “The Carnival Of The Animals” that Saint-Saëns would allow to be played in public during his lifetime, as he thought the other movements were all too frivolous and would damage his reputation as a serious composer.

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 10 (autumn 2011)

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 9 (summer 2010).

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 8 (spring 2010).

competitions, teachers' resources

Enter our latest writing comp!

"Alphabet Soup Kids"
© Greg Mitchell


Entries close 29 April 2011

Write a story up to 400 words long (shorter is fine). Your story must include something about cooking.

Include a competition entry form. This may be printed from the Alphabet Soup website or photocopied. (Or contact us and we’ll email or post you one.)

Get writing!

authors, competitions, info, poetry, teachers' resources

Autumn 2011 Alphabet Soup is out!

Issue 10 cover Alphabet SoupThe autumn issue of Alphabet Soup magazine was posted yesterday, so if you are a subscriber—you’ll find it in your letterbox sometime over the next few days. Yay!

Here’s what you’ll find inside issue 10:

  • Q&A with author, Oliver Phommavanh
  • How to have fun with chemistry (2011 is the International Year of Chemistry!)
  • Writing tips for kids from The Book Chook
  • Stories and poems by children’s authors and poets
  • Stories, poems and book reviews by kids
  • Crossword
  • Our autumn writing competition

Later today we’ll be announcing the winners of our summer 2010 writing competition and posting the winning poems here on the blog. AND we’ll be posting the Q&A with Oliver Phommavanh. So stay tuned!


"Book pack from Fremantle Press*"

Are you a subscriber? Subscribers are entered into a draw every season – this season’s winner receives a $200 book pack from Fremantle Press! (Books may differ from those pictured.)

Subscribe to Alphabet Soup

competitions, info, poetry, teachers' resources

Summer 2010 writing comp!

Win a $20 book voucher!

"Writing a poem"Write a poem up to 10 lines long (shorter is fine). Your poem must include the word ‘snap.’ Include a competition entry form—you can print one from Alphabet Soup‘s website.

ENTRIES CLOSE 7 JANUARY 2011. (We’ll accept entries postmarked 7 January.)

This writing competition is open to children aged 12 and under. Entries are judged in 3 age categories.

info, teachers' resources

Summer 2010 issue out 7 December!

"Alphabet Soup magazine issue 9 cover"

Inside issue 9 of Alphabet Soup magazine:

  • Q&A with Hazel Edwards, author of There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake (and many more books!)
  • Australian Wetlands at Perth Zoo
  • Stories, poems and book recommendations
  • Kids’ writing (your own stories, poems and book reviews!)
  • Crossword
  • The Book Chook’s writing tips for kids
  • Summer 2010 writing competition

Oh! And don’t forget to admire the cover. The artwork is by Angel Hatton, the winner of our design-a-cover competition.

SUBSCRIBE NOW FOR CHRISTMAS and we’ll post your order on 20 December 2010 with a postcard attached notifying the recipient that it is a gift subscription from you.

Subscribe online and write ‘Christmas gift’ in the ‘message to sender’ field or

Download an order form and send it in with your cheque or money order (and note on the form that it is a Christmas gift).

A 1-year subscription is only $29.80 (including p&h)

teachers' resources

Activities page for issue 8

Issue 8—spring 2010

ACTIVITIES"Issue 8 cover"

1. VISIT the Arts Alive site! You can look at virtual instruments and click to hear a short sample of what each instrument in an orchestra sounds like.

2. MAKE your own musical instruments. There are some ideas on page 14 of the spring issue but we’re sure you can come up with some of your own. (Raid your craft box, or even the saucepans drawer!)

3. HOW MANY WAYS can you make music with your body? (Have you ever made a popping sound with your finger in your mouth? Try stomping your feet on the floor, clicking your fingers, or slapping your hands on your legs.) Chant and clap rhymes like ‘Miss Mary Mack’.

4. SING A ROUND with a friend. Do you remember Three Blind Mice? Start singing, and when you start singing ‘See How they Run’, that’s when your friend starts at the beginning of the song. If you haven’t tried it before it can be hard not to sing your friend’s part! (If you have a third friend, they can start singing or chanting from the beginning when you start the part that goes ‘They all run after the farmer’s wife”.)

Try chanting it instead of singing. It can get very noisy!

5. HAVE A RHYME-OFF. Find a friend (or find a whole bunch of friends and separate into two teams). The aim of the game is to see who remembers the most Nursery Rhymes. The first team begins by singing or chanting one verse of a Nursery Rhyme. When they finish, the second team has five counts to start singing or chanting another Nursery Rhyme. And when they finish, the first team has five counts to come up with another Nursery Rhyme. And so on. The winner is the team who sang or chanted the last nursery rhyme.

Appoint someone to be the umpire to make sure no-one repeats a Nursery Rhyme or goes beyond the 5 counts, to say whether they’ll accept a particular song as a Nursery Rhyme or not, and to decide how many people on a team have to know the rhyme for it to ‘count’.

OR divide the grown-ups into groups at the next family gathering and YOU be the umpire! (Grown-ups know heaps of Nursery Rhymes, they just need their memories jogged a little!)


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.)


There are many, many beautiful pieces written for the viola – with and without orchestra. Here are just a selection –

(i) Sinfonia Concertanate (1779) by Mozart. This was one of the first pieces to treat violas and violins as equal partners. Before this, Bach, Handel and Vivaldi had given the viola important passages in several of their fugues and concertos.
(ii) Potpourri. Johann Hummel – a virtuoso pianist and pupil of Mozart – wrote “Potpourri” for Viola and Orchestra and the shortened version – “Fantasy” is a staple of viola repertoire. It contains many quotes from the operas of Mozart and Rossini.
(iii) “Harold In Italy”
by Berlioz, is a four-part work with extensive viola solo throughout. Berlioz composed “Harold In Italy” at the suggestion of Paganini. Paganini had acquired a superb Stradivarius viola, but lamented to Berlioz that there was no music good enough for him to play on it. He asked Berlioz to compose a solo piece for viola, adding the Berlioz was the only one he could trust.

When Berlioz showed Paganini the Allegro movement – which had lots of rests for viola – Paganini took offence, telling Berlioz it would not do, as he expected to be playing continuously. The two then parted ways. When Paganini heard it – years after it was written – he loved it!

William Primrose (see below) made the first recording of this work in 1946.

(In 2009, the composer/accordionist William Schimmel wrote the piece ” Harold is alive and doing (seemingly) OK somewhere in Lisbon” for chamber orchestra and solo accordion, instead of viola)

(iv) William Primrose, Lionel Tertis and Paul Hindemith were viola virtuosos in the twentieth century. Hindemith wrote concertos for the Viola, as well as pieces for Viola and Piano and solo Viola works.

(v) Ralph Vaughn- Williams composed the Suite for Viola and Orchestra in 1934 for Lionel Tertis. The suite is a beautiful set of dances.

(vi) William Walton wrote  his Viola Concerto in 1929, for the Viola virtuoso Lionel Tertis. Tertis originally shunned the work, with Paul Hindemith premiering the work that same year, with Walton conducting.

Lionel Tertis later took up the work himself . Yehudi Menuhin and Nigel Kennedy have also recorded the concerto on viola, although they are better known as violinists.

(vii) In January, 1945, William Primrose commissioned a viola concerto from Bela Bartok.  Already gravely ill with leukemia, Bartok began the work and, by September, had completed the viola part and sketches for the orchestra. He died later hat month, however, and the concerto was completed by his pupil Tibor Serly. Bartok’s son Peter revised the concerto in the 1990s. There are four versions – all completed by different composers – in existence – and all hotly discussed and disputed!


Sumer is Icumen In is the oldest surviving round in English. (See an image of the manuscript here.) Here’s the Hilliard Ensemble performing it:

The first published rounds in English were by Thomas Ravenscroft in 1609. Including –

Three Blinde Mice,
Three Blinde Mice,
Dame lulian,
Dame lulian,
The Miller and his merry olde Wife,
shee scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife.

(What do you think that song is about? The words use old fashioned spelling but can you recognise the song?)

Hear a Frog Round for three voices (see the free mp3 at bottom right of the Cantaris site)

Popular rounds you might know include –
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
London’s Burning
Frère Jacques

Chant is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds.
Chant is found all over the world  African, Native American and Australian Aboriginal culture, Gregorian chant, Vedic chant, Jewish chant, Buddhist chant, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican chant.

Rounds were also mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays!


Well-known Bagpipe pieces include “Scotland The Brave” and “Amazing Grace”, although there are thousands of traditional bagpipe pieces (and many different types of traditional bagpipes) from all over the world. Listen to The Pipes and Drums of the Chicago Police Department perform Amazing Grace:

In modern culture, they can be heard on many pieces, including “Mull Of Kintyre” by Paul McCartney and “Orkney Wedding. With Sunrise” by Peter Maxwell Davies.


In 1803, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote a poem based on the story of the Pied Piper that was later set to music by Hugo Wolf.

“Der Rattenfänger von Hamelin” is an opera in five acts by Viktor Nessler to a German libretto by Friedrich Hofmann.

John Corigiliano composed “The Pied Piper Fantasy” (1982), a concerto for flute and orchestra, first performed by the flautist James Galway.

See the activities and the themed listening list for issue 7 (winter 2010).

Subscribe to Alphabet Soup.

authors, info, teachers' resources

“Lights Out!” (Kathryn Apel)

Kathryn Apel is the author of Fencing With Fear and This is the Mud. She’s here today to help us celebrate the launch of the Undercover Readers Club by sharing the books that she liked to read after ‘lights out’ when she was a child. Welcome, Kat!

"Fencing with fear cover""This is the mud (cover)"

What did I read after lights out when I was growing up?

"Kat Apel photo"
Kathryn Apel

Oh – that’s so easy!

If I was reading anything undercover when I was a kid, it would have been an Enid Blyton. (And then Nancy Drew … ) I loved the The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. I even staged a protest when our librarian banned these books from our school. Disgraceful – that they should be banned!

My lights-out reading was by the glow of the lounge room light spilling into my bedroom. I crouched near the door and tilted the words toward the light – but had to be ve-ry careful turning the pages, so I didn’t alert my parents to my presence. Just as well I had a carpeted bedroom floor. It softened flurried footsteps on those frantic flights back to bed! (Though the bedsprings did give me away on occasion … )

I also remember staying at my cousin’s house for a holiday and going to Vacation Bible School. My cousin and I were in stiff competition for the most bible verses memorised, and I needed an edge! My cousin was puzzled at how I had memorised so many verses next day – but I wasn’t telling him about that torch trick!

Yr 3 student Curtis Costa obviously had a few tricks up his sleeve, too. I was pretty chuffed by his review of my book  Fencing With Fear: “When I was reading and Dad told me, ‘Lights out!’ I hid the book, turned on my lamp and kept reading because it was so exciting.” What an awesome review! Thank you, Curtis.

Hmmmm … All this talk about Undercover Readers is making me a bit suspicious of my two book bug boys … and their lights out routines.

Why are you both looking soooo suspicious?


"Kat's symbol"

© 2010 Kathryn Apel

Visit Kat Apel’s site to find out more about her and her books.

"undercover readers logo"Alphabet Soup magazine is celebrating the launch of Undercover Readers (our new reviewers club for kids)!  If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we have a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day until 29 June 2010 to talk about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up.

Christmas, info, teachers' resources

A subscription for Christmas!

Alphabet Soup is a magazine about books and creative writing for primary-school aged kids. A subscription would make a fantastic Christmas gift for your favourite young bookworm. (A 1-year subscription only costs $29.80.)

All our subscribers for issue 5 go into a draw for a chance to win a book pack from Fremantle Press, worth $200.00!*

*Books in book pack may differ from those pictured.

Subscribe now to ensure your first issue arrives in time to go under the tree!

Inside issue 5:

  • Kids’ writing competition (win a $20 book voucher!)
  • Q&A with Christine Harris, author of the Audrey books
  • Meet an astronomer
  • Stories, poems and book reviews
  • 6 pages of kids’ writing (kids’ stories, poems, book reviews and artwork!)
  • Writing tips for kids

Merry Christmas from Alphabet Soup!