Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Lost Stone of SkyCity

REVIEWED BY EVA, 11, WA

The Lost Stone of SkyCity by HM WaughThe Lost Stone of SkyCity by HM Waugh, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925815948

Eva received a review copy of this book.

The Lost Stone of Skycity is written from the main character, Sunaya’s, point of view. Sunaya and her friend Danam discover the land of where the ice people live. In the beginning of the book they think it is just a legend but they discover that the ice people are real! The ice people find Danam and he gets taken away to take the dragon tests. The dragon tests are tests to see if he is strong and powerful enough to defend the Queen from anything bad, and if he passes the tests, he would become the cloud dragon. There is a really cool twist, that you won’t see coming!

This book is awesome because it was exciting! I’ve got a favourite part of the book but I can’t tell you about it as it will spoil it for you – but believe me you have to read this book!

I think the author is very talented. I liked imagining the pictures in my head. It had lots of action in it which was exhilarating! My favourite character was Sunaya. It was a joy to read!

I think other people should read it because there is no other book like it. It is really unique – I like the gotals. The book encourages people to be strong, never give up, and to trust their instincts.

I hope there is a second book soon! I loved the book so much I might dress up as the character, Sunaya, for book week at school!

Read a sample chapter from The Lost Stone of SkyCity.

Read Alphabet Soup’s interview with the author.


This is Eva’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. 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

Book review: The Tyrant’s Tomb

REVIEWED BY ISAAC, 13, WA

The Tyrant’s Tomb (The Trials of Apollo Book 4) by Rick Riordan, Puffin, ISBN 9780141364049

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

The Trials of Apollo: The Tyrant’s Tomb is a fascinating book. It is a fiction novel about mythological creatures, gods and other beliefs. Rick Riordan writes every one of his books with care. The initial storylines of these books are all set in the same world, but his stories and plots get more sophisticated as they continue on from the other stories within the series.

I really enjoyed this book, as it plays along with the main storyline of the series and refers to mythological elements from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. 

Overall, Rick Riordan’s books are all highly recommended! 


This is Isaac’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. 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, Glenridge Elementary School

Book review: Harry Potter series

Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stoneREVIEWED BY ISABELLA, SECOND GRADE, MISSOURI, USA

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, ill. Mary GrandPré, Scholastic, ISBN 9780545582889

Have you ever heard of the book series Harry Potter? It is by JK Rowling. Have you seen the front cover? It’s so phenomenal! Well at least to me. I think that the illustrator Mary GrandPré did a very good job! I love all the front covers. Because they have details! And they are unique! And the front cover makes me feel like I’m in the story.

Do you also like magic? Because Harry Potter is about magic! Harry Potter is a story about this bad wizard named Voldemort. He’s trying to do something bad to Harry Potter. Harry Potter is really good at magic! The reason I like Harry Potter is because he does magic! I think that magic is amazing! Another reason I like Harry Potter is because he goes to Hogwarts! Which is a MAGIC school! My favorite part is the Holiday Feasts. I wish that the Holiday Feasts were in real life!

One of my favorite characters is Ron Weasley. He’s so funny. One time, in the second book, Malfoy called Hermione a Mudblood, a name for a muggle born, and so Ron tried to do a spell on Malfoy. Muggle born means human born. That hurt Hermione’s feelings. The spell that Ron did was eat slugs. Since the Whomping Willow smashed his wand, the spell reversed back on him, and he threw up slugs. His jaw just opened  and he started throwing up slugs! I like Hermione and Harry too, but my least favorite characters are Draco Malfoy, Voldemort, and the Dursleys. Malfoy is my least favorite character  because he’s mean to Harry Potter. I don’t like Voldemort either because he’s trying to do something bad to Harry Potter. I also don’t like the Dursleys because when Harry was only 11, they made him sleep in the cupboard under the stairs. So, basically, that was his room. When I first read it I was wondering, “How could a family do such a thing?” On one of his birthdays, or ALL of his birthdays, OR for the whole summer AND his birthday he HAS to pretend he doesn’t EXIST! And plus it’s his BIRTHDAY! I can’t imagine that life.

These are all the reasons I love Harry Potter!

The first book in the series is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone*. The second book is called Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The third book is called Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The fourth book, that I’m reading, is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The fifth book is called Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The sixth book is called Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The seventh book is called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And those are all the books in the Harry Potter series.

 

*In Australia this book is published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.


Second grade students at Glenridge Elementary School (Missouri, USA) are guest reviewers at Alphabet Soup. Click here if you’d like to read more book reviews by Glenridge Elementary School. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Glenridge Elementary School

Book review: HARRY POTTER SERIES

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling illustrated by Mary GrandPréREVIEWED BY MOMO, SECOND GRADE, MISSOURI, USA

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, ill. Mary GrandPré, Scholastic, ISBN 9780439136358

I think you should read the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Mary GrandPré. Keep reading don’t stop. It might seem really boring at first. Hey! Wait! Just at the beginning.

In the first book he finds the Sorcerer’s Stone. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley help him find it. Harry Potter is eleven in the first book. I LOVE this book series because they all have a lot of action in them. Also he finds the school of witchcraft and wizardry. Also because he has a cute little owl! Awwww so cute.

I give this book a nine out of ten. I found this book in a bookstore. I am on the fifth book in the series. My sister read all of the books. I recommend this book for ages 8–12.


Second grade students at Glenridge Elementary School (Missouri, USA) are guest reviewers at Alphabet Soup this month. Click here if you’d like to read more book reviews by Glenridge Elementary School. 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: A Wrinkle in Time

A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'EngleREVIEWED BY MATILDA, 12, WA

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Penguin Books Ltd, ISBN 9780241331163

Matilda borrowed this book from the library.

This is a science-fiction novel about a family whose dad is missing. The little brother discovers three ladies who seem to be able to travel to other dimensions, and they tell Charles Wallace that they know where his father is.

I like time-slip novels — this is sort of a dimension-slip novel. I really enjoyed it because it was so different from our world, and I liked the characters in the other world.

The copy of the book I read was a movie tie-in, and had photos from the movie in the middle pages of the book. That was annoying because I had an idea in my head of all the characters and then suddenly I came across the movie photos and they were completely different. (But I’d still like to see the movie.)

Kids who love weird fantasy adventure books will love this.


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

Book review: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

REVIEWED BY TILLY, 8, QLD

Book cover of The Secret Horses of Briar HillThe Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, ill. by Levi Pinfold,
Walker Books, ISBN 9781406367584

Tilly reviews her own copy of this book. 

It is December 1941, World War II, Briar Hill Hospital.  A girl named Emmaline has a secret: there are winged horses in the mirrors.

The main characters are Emmaline, Foxfire and the Black Horse.  Emmaline is passionate, persistent and courageous in her attempts to save the magical winged horse Foxfire.  Foxfire is in trouble as the Black Horse is hunting Foxfire.

I really like the black and white illustrations, they are beautiful!  The illustrations help paint a magical picture in your head while reading the book.

It is a fantasy book written through the eyes of Emmaline.

I like this book a lot. I recommend this book to children who have a wild imagination from 8 years of age.


This is Tilly’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. 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, Book reviews by Matilda, Recommended reading

Book review: The Sisters Grimm series

The Sisters Grimm (cover of book 1) by Michael Buckley, ill Peter FergusonREVIEWED BY MATILDA, 12, WA

The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Peter Ferguson, Abrams Books.

Matilda borrowed this series from her school library.

Daphne and Sabrina Grimm are normal girls that live a normal life, until suddenly their parents disappear. After being in the foster care system for two years the girls are finally placed with their grandma, where they discover that fairytales are real …

I absolutely loved everything about this series and I couldn’t put it down. The plot is quirky but it is written in a wonderful way. These books are definitely my favourites so far this year. I was kept in suspense all through the books, and I really felt as though I was there.

I recommend this book for kids aged 10+, and for readers who love adventure stories and fairytales.

5 stars!


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, Book reviews by Matilda

Book review: The Book of Secrets

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

The Book of Secrets by AL TaitThe Book of Secrets (The Ateban Cipher book #1) by A.L. Tait, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9780734417671

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

The Book of Secrets is the first in The Ateban Cipher series. It’s about a young monk who has been living in the abbey all his life, and has never been outside the abbey walls. Then he finds Brother Benedict bleeding and maybe dying, and Brother Benedict hands him a book. What is the secret of the book? Why is it in a code he can’t distinguish? And who is this Aidan he has to take it to?

I loved this book because at first it seems magical and absurd … but it could actually happen. My favourite character is Gwendolyn, because she is determined and independent, and does everything to help other people. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next book in the series.

I would recommend this book for readers aged 9 and older who love fantasy and adventure.

Extras:

Read the first chapter!

Teachers notes, available at the publisher’s website.

Read an interview with the author.


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 Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: My Alien Friend

My alien friend

by Anouksha, 10, VIC

Today at school we had art. The teacher said that you could draw anything you wanted to draw. I drew a spotty alien with four arms, two tentacles and an eye. Behind it in the background was planet Mars with a beautiful starry night sky to go with it. We were allowed to take our artwork home so I took it home and stuck it on my bedroom door.

The next day I woke up to a rustling sound. I looked everywhere but all I could see was my very own room with nothing unusual. That was strange. Then I kept on looking for the mystery sound. Wait a minute, suddenly my alien artwork I did at art yesterday caught my eye. It was MOVING!!! Suddenly out popped an ALIEN!!! It popped out from my alien artwork. I screamed and then mum came in. I pointed my finger straight at the alien but then it vanished! I told mum there was an alien before but it vanished. Mum took no notice of it and said I was daydreaming but I wasn’t.

Just when Mum left, the alien reappeared! I didn’t scream again because I’m pretty sure the alien would vanish again. Suddenly the alien started talking in a really weird language that I did not understand. I gave a puzzled look in return. Well, I guess the alien understood because the alien gave me a pair of headphones. I put it on my head and when the alien spoke, it would translate into English. “That is so cool” I said.

The alien said: “My name is Zing Zang. I have been transported to earth by your wonderful alien drawing, but I can’t find my way back to Mars. Can you help me?”
“Sure,” I replied. “Tomorrow we can camp outside in tents so we might be able to find Mars,” I suggested.
“Ok,” said Zing Zang.

It was nearly night. We set our tents up and we were now gazing into the stars.Stars. Photo from pexels.com

“All I can see is billions and billions of stars,” said Zing Zang. After a few minutes I heard Zing Zang shout out “Spaceship,spaceship,spaceship!”
“Zing Zang did you find Mars?” I asked surprised.

“No, but I found a spaceship that was a spaceship from Mars,” Replied Zing Zang. “Now all we have to do to get their attention is turn around 3 times, jump two times and clap,” said Zing Zang.

So we turned around 3 times, jumped 2 times and clapped. Suddenly a big shiny spaceship landed on our garden. Our garden was big enough for the spaceship to land. The spaceship landed and signalled something to Zing Zang. I gave Zing Zang a great big hug even though he was pretty slimy! Zing Zang walked into the spaceship and then I waved goodbye. The spaceship zoomed away into the starry night sky. In the sky the Spaceship was as small as a speck of dust.
“Oh no, I forgot to give Zing Zang the headphones,” I said. At least I could keep it to remember Zing Zang.

“Anouksha, Anouksha,” said someone. Tap, Tap! I woke up and saw my mum tapping on my shoulder and saying wake up. So all this was a dream?
“Awww” I moaned. I wish it was real. When my mum left I heard a rustling sound. “Maybe this wasn’t a dream after all.”


This is Anouksha’s first story published with Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!

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Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Anna Ciddor

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today the book baton is passed to author and illustrator, Anna Ciddor. Anna has written and illustrated over fifty books on topics as diverse as Vikings, Australia, goldfish, and tournaments. Her most recent book is The Family with Two Front Doors — a true story about a family of nine children who lived in Poland in the 1920s.

You might recognise some of these books:

Last week Meg McKinlay asked:
You’re a writer and an illustrator — good grief! Do you feel equally comfortable doing both, or does one come more naturally to you?

Anna answers:
Well, to tell the truth, even though I have been a full-time author and illustrator for nearly thirty years, I don’t find either writing or illustrating quick and easy! For me, they both need lots and LOTS of drafts and research and planning. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how I wrote and illustrated The Family with Two Front Doors so you can see what I mean.

Step 1 Planning and research
The Family with Two Front Doors is based on stories my late Nana told me about her childhood. I planned each chapter of the book, including the ending, then sat down to bring the first scene to life in my head. I quickly discovered I had a problem. Nana never told me what clothes she wore as a child and, sadly, she was no longer around to help. If I can’t picture a scene, I can’t write it, so I had to stop and research the types of clothes worn by religious Jewish children in 1920s Poland. All through the book there were delays while I researched details before I could picture each scene.

Step 2 The Writing
When I write, I constantly ask myself, ‘Does this word give the best picture of what I am trying to say?’ For example, in one sentence I wrote ‘Yakov ran through the door,’ but then I realised I needed a more descriptive word than ran. Maybe burst would be better? Or scampered? Which word gave the best picture of what Yakov was doing? As you can imagine, this makes the writing process extremely slow. It took me four years to research and write The Family with Two Front Doors!

Step 3 The editing
When I deliver a book to the publishers, it is very exciting and scary, waiting to find out if they like it. Luckily, they loved The Family with Two Front Doors but it took me a few months to write the few changes they suggested because I am so slow!

Step 4 Illustrating
For me, this is the last step. Even though The Family with Two Front Doors was going to have tiny black and white illustrations, I wanted them to be perfect. I drew them over and over again. The faces of the characters had to be exactly the way I imagined them, and their clothes, and details, such as the sewing machine, had to be historically accurate. Those few tiny illustrations took me months!

Visit Anna Ciddor’s site for more about her and her books!


Dragonfly SongAnd now Anna Ciddor passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Wendy Orr. Wendy’s books have been published in 25 countries and languages and have won awards in Australia and overseas. Her Nim’s Island books were made into movies. Wendy Orr’s latest book is Dragonfly Song.

Anna asks:
I love to find out how other authors work. There are two parts to my question. Firstly, do you plan the whole book, including the end, before you begin (like I do), or are you one of those authors who start writing without knowing the ending? And secondly, once you begin writing, do you slow yourself down with research and re-writing (like I do), or are you one of those amazing authors who can work fast?
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
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See you next week!

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