teachers' resources

Book Review: Brain Drain

"Brain Drain by Christine Harris"Brain Drain by Christine Harris, ill. by Gus Gordon. Published by Hodder Headline Australia, ISBN 9780733612763

Reviewed by Elliana*, 9, WA

Brain Drain is about a young boy called Hamish. Hamish has a sister called Lucy. One day Hamish had too much time on the computer playing silly games when he got brain drained and the computer swapped brains with him. Lucy told her parents but they didn’t believe her. How can Lucy get old Hamish back and not acting like a computer anymore?

I think this book is suitable for girls and boys aged 9+ because they might find this book a bit confusing. I give this book 3/5. I liked the book because it was funny and silly.

[Brain Drain is out of print but your local library may have a copy.]

"Undercover Readers Club logo"*Elliana is a member of our Undercover Readers Club. A review copy of Brain Drain was provided by the author.

teachers' resources

Interview with Audrey from Audrey of the Outback

"Audrey of the Outback book cover"Over on the Audrey of the Outback blog, Christine Harris talks about interviewing your characters as one way of getting ideas for your story. She interviews Audrey while she’s at it!

We are sad to hear that there won’t be any more Audrey paperbacks, but on the blog Christine Harris says there will be an Audrey picture book coming out, so stay tuned …

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!

authors, info, teachers' resources

Meet Christine Harris: author of Audrey of the Outback!

Christine Harris The summer ’09 issue of Alphabet Soup includes a Q&A with Christine Harris. We decided to publish the Q&A here too, with a couple of extra sections that didn’t fit onto the pages for the magazine layout!

Christine Harris is the author of 50 books, including Audrey of the Outback. She was nine years old and sitting up a tree when she wrote her first book. (She claims not to sit in trees when she writes these days. Perhaps it’s too hard to lug a computer up there.)

What do you love best about being a writer?
The surprises, in both the writing and the things I learn about the world, myself and my characters.

The readers that I meet in person and through emails, I love their enthusiasm and eccentric ways of viewing life.

Freedom and the ability to make a difference with my words.

Where do you live?
In my head mostly. But my house is in Mt Barker, South Australia

Audrey of the Outback coverWhat made you become a writer?
An impulse that I can only describe as a driving force. Even as a child I was captured by stories, telling them, reading them and then writing some.

Was it easy to get your first book published?
No. But I was determined. I gave myself three years to make something happen. I started with competitions, then went onto articles in magazine and newspapers and, eventually, publishers. I have had books shortlisted for prizes that were rejected previously by other publishers. My first short story was rejected 17 times, before someone said yes.

So? All great things take a lot of effort! The trick is to inform yourself of your best markets, be professional, creative and never give up.

Audrey Goes to Town coverAre there any ‘downsides’ to being a writer?
Starvation, isolation … any ‘ation’ you can probably think of. But, seriously, it is important to get out sometimes, rather than just staring at a computer all day. Talk to another human at least once  a day. And it’s hard waiting for my agent or a publisher to say whether they like my material or not. That’s agony. Some parts of writing are boring, but not many. And if I feel like that I take a break or play music or sounds. I bought some CD which are just natural sounds like birds or rain or the ocean and they have no music or words.

What was your favourite book as a child?
A Wrinkle in Time.  Scared the pants off me. Then there was Midwich Cuckoos, The Chrysalids – oops, looks as though I like being scared.

Do you have any pets?
Just my husband, David. And he’s quite house trained.

Audrey's Big Secret, coverWhere do you get your ideas/inspiration?
Anything I see, hear, feel, smell, read … sparks come from all manner of places. What is important is to let the idea run its full length, allow time to mull over it, ask ‘What If?’ and write notes.

Of your own books, which is your favourite?
I don’t have a favourite because I only write books I like, and it depends on my mood which genre I might choose on any day.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Knit, watch movies, work in my garden, hike, read, and scour YouTube for funny videos.

Do you mostly write in a paper journal, or use a computer?
Computer, these days. My handwriting is awful now, and I can type faster. Also typing on the computer allows me to change or save very easily. But I do have a collection of notebooks that I use for ideas and some planning.

Are you working on a book at the moment? Can you tell us something about it?
Maze is a psychological thriller for readers 11+ and I am halfway through, but I can’t talk about it as I am superstitious and think it will disappear if I talk about it too soon.

Do you have any advice for young writers?
Write often, in your own voice, and remember to enjoy it!

You can find out more about Christine Harris and her books by visiting her website: www.christineharris.com. You can also check out the Audrey of the Outback page: www.audreyoftheoutback.net.