Book reviews by kids

Book review: New City

New City by Deborah Abela, ISBN 9781742758558,
Random House Australia

New city


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

New City is the sequel to Grimsdon, but you don’t need to read the first book to appreciate New City.

The book is set after the events of Grimsdon, when Isabella, adult friend Jeremiah, and her other friends, who survived together in the first book, are taken from the flooded Grimsdon to the beautiful New City. They are treated like heroes and live in luxury. But is it such a wonderful place, or do darker secrets lie beneath?

The kids have faced sea monsters and evil lords, but now they have new threats to face.

New City shows how the people can make change happen, and how just one person can make a change in the world. I like how Deborah has used real events from our times for her own story, and she has made her characters likeable and believable. They have developed over the course of the story and you can see their friendship with each other.

Deborah’s writing is is simple and sweet. But I do believe that some of Deborah’s ideas are unrealistic.

As this is set in the future, all sorts of new inventions have been invented, like invisible wings called Ornithopters. They have cameras everywhere, and hi-tech technology is a solid part of the people’s lives. Yet, they still use eagles as messenger birds, when technology would’ve normally replaced them.

Deborah has brought out a unique story that will be enjoyable for children of ages 9 and up. If you enjoy adventures in worlds that are both like and unlike our own, then this book is worth a try. In my opinion, this is an improvement on Grimsdon. Deborah has explored new ideas and has presented them well. I rate New City 4 stars out of 5.

Do you think you’d enjoy this book? You can read a sample of New City on the publisher’s website.

Veronica is a member of our Top Reads Team, and this is her first book review on Alphabet Soup’s blog. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!


July School Holiday activities (NSW)

Here are some fabulous-looking workshops for young writers and illustrators in NSW. (We wish we could go!)

1.       Writing with Deborah Abela

A Transylvanian Tale by Deborah Abela
Ghost Club: A Transylvanian Tale by Deborah Abela

Author Deborah Abela will be leading a writing workshop for students in Years 3-6  at The Children’s Bookshop as their Writer in Residence.

Explore the writing process, focusing on creating charismatic characters and sensational settings!

Activities will be hands-on and fun!

When: Thursday 11 July 2013,  9–12.30pm

Where: The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah St, Beecroft NSW

Cost: check with the bookshop—by email or phone 9481 8811


2.       Creating Spooking Houses with Sarah Davis

Sounds Spooky (cover)
Sounds Spooky: illustrated by Sarah Davis

In this hands-on workshop for children in grades 3–6, you will make a paper diorama of a haunted house with Sarah Davis, illustrator of Sounds Spooky. Design character cutouts and set up and photograph little dioramas with spooky lighting. Go home with a photo print, and your house and characters.

When: Tuesday 9 July 2013, 9–12.30pm

Cost: $50 per student. All materials provided. Book early!

Where: The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah St, Beecroft NSW

How to Book: check with the bookshop—by email or phone 9481 8811

3.       Let’s Go to the Circus

Share the stories and adventures of the world of the Circus, enjoying craft and art activities based around this theme. And there is a prize for the best dressed Circus participant!

Workshop Leader : Jocelyn Shute is a talented Infants Teacher and a great friend of The Children’s Bookshop.

 When: Wednesday, 10 July 10 2013 , 9–11am For Children Ages 5-7

Where: The Children’s Bookshop, 6 Hannah St, Beecroft NSW

Cost: $30 per student. All materials provided. Book early!

How to Book: check with the bookshop—by email or phone 9481 8811

Book reviews by Rebecca

Book Review – Ghost Club: A Transylvanian Tale

Ghost Club: A Transylvanian Tale by Deborah Abela, ISBN 9781742758534, Random House Australia

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher

A Transylvanian Tale (cover)

Edgar, Angeline and Dylan are ghost catchers and they are off to Transylvania for the annual Ghost Club Convention. This is the third book in the Ghost Club series — and Dylan is still anxious about his role as a ghost catcher. He’s terrified of … well … just about everything. He’s doing his best to be brave but his efforts to impress Angeline tend to end badly. Besides, Angeline is distracted by the celebrity Ghost Catcher Ripley Granger. In fact, everyone but Dylan seems to be distracted by Ripley. Only Dylan senses that something at the convention is not quite right — he has a feeling that something terrible is about to happen.

This is a spooky adventure story full to the brim with ghosts, vampires and kid ghost-hunters with cool gadgets (plus a touch of romance and humour.)

Read chapter one (for free!) on the publisher’s website.

© April 2013 “Review of Ghost Club: A Transylvanian Tale” by Rebecca Newman (
National Year of Reading

Book Review – Ghost Club: The Haunted School

Welcome to Sophie, who is a member of our Undercover Readers Club and our guest reviewer today!

Ghost Club: The Haunted School by Deborah Abela, ISBN 9781742750835, Random House Australia

Reviewed by Sophie, 10, WA

Ghost Club: The Haunted School (cover)

Ghost Club: The Haunted School is a ghost story where you never know what will come around the corner. This is one of the few stories that will get you down on your knees pleading for more. If you were to read this, you will come to accept that people make some big mistakes in life, some so big you can never make up for them.

I love this book. I might have read more complicated books, but this one is right up there on my list of fabulous books. It does not go on for so long that you find yourself asking mum if you can tidy up the whole house. I love this book because it has a ghostly theme, it explains the characters’ emotions and it gives you a real picture of what the characters look like.

This book does not have illustrations. It does not need them. It tells the story extremely well without them. I personally think that a book with illustrations spoils your imagination as you don’t give yourself a picture of what YOU think that particular character looks like.

I think that this wonderful book would suit both girls and boys. Ghosts are not just for boys!

This would suit anyone between ages 5 and 100! (I am 100 minus 90!)

"Undercover Readers Club logo"* Sophie is a member of our Undercover Readers Club. (Download information about the club on the magazine’s website.) A review copy of Ghost Club: The Haunted School was provided by Random House Australia.