Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: A Tale of Witchcraft

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

The image shows the cover of a children's fantasy novel: A Tale of Witchcraft. The title is at the top of the book. At the bottom are the words "Bestselling author of The Land of Stories, Chris Colfer". The cover is predominantly in purples. At the centre of the cover is a circle (reminiscent of a crystal ball) with a gothic-looking castle inside. Surrounding the ball are a white wolf, young witches walking into the distance wearing black cloaks with the hoods up, and a tangle of twisty tree branches. The overall effect is spooky.

A Tale of Witchcraft (A Tale of Magic: Book 2) by Chris Colfer, Hachette Children, ISBN 9780316523547

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

Brystal is the fairy godmother, with responsibilities stacked as high as the sky. She finds that everything is falling apart and her friendships are spiralling out of control. How will she protect herself from the righteous brotherhood and put her friendships together again?  

I don’t know how Brystal found the courage to keep going everyday, it was inspiring. Brystal taught me how to keep going even in the darkest times and to never give up no matter what the circumstances. This was the best fantasy book I have ever read, it was so engaging and each page was like its own story. I can’t wait to read the next book!

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who loves a good page-turner, especially if you love to read fantasy. I hope that everyone is as inspired as I am by Brystal.


Stephanie is a member of Iona Presentation College’s student reviewers’ team. This is her second review for Alphabet Soup. You can read her review of Girl of The Southern Sea here. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour

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

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter, Hachette Australia, ISBN 9780734419163

Alphabet Soup provided a review copy of this book.

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour is about a 12-year-old girl named April, whose mother abandoned her when she was just an infant. The only thing April has from her past is a mysterious key on a chain. Years later, after moving around between many foster families, April arrives at the Winterborne Home for Orphans. At the Winterborne Home, she meets a group of children and together this group of misfits uncover deep and dark secrets which have been masked for a decade. As part of their journey of discovering mysterious secrets, this mismatched band of orphans come to rely on one another and ultimately become like the family they all longed for. 

Little does the group know, April holds the key to the Winterborne Legacy. It is sought out by one of the last living Winterborne’s, Evert Winterborne. Why does Evert desire this key? What does it unlock? Evert is willing to commit murder to get his hands on the Legacy, which he believes is rightfully his. However, his mission of unlocking his family’s Legacy is continually thwarted by the orphans, who are the only thing that stand between Evert and the Winterborne Home and Legacy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it captivated me and held my attention right until the end. I felt as if the characters were so real and relatable that they could jump right out of the page and I was in the Winterborne Home with them. I think this book was very interesting and for people who love mysteries and adventures this is the book for you! I would give this book an eight out of ten and would recommend it for older readers.

Read an excerpt from the book via the publisher’s website.


Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Lily’s first 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 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 Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Ungifted

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 12, WA

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Ungifted by Gordon Korman, HarperCollins, ISBN 9780061742668

Joseph borrowed this book from his public library.

Gordon Korman wrote one of my favourite books (I Want to Go Home), and when I found this at the library I knew I wanted to read it. I thought it wasn’t as funny as some of Korman’s other books, but it had a great plot and kept me engaged.

Because of a mistake, Donovan is sent to an academy of selective distinction. He know’s he’s not gifted enough to be there but he decides to try to stay because he’s hiding out from the principal at his old school. (He skipped detention and managed to destroy the gym.)

All the kids at the academy suspect there was a mistake, so he has to do his best to blend in. Unfortunately he has a history of getting into trouble. I like how Korman links so many events in the story and keeps you guessing. Most readers aged 11+ would enjoy this humorous book. It involves lots of modern technology and the vocabulary suits advanced readers.


Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The Island of Dr Libris. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Matilda

Book review: Figgy and the President

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 10, WA

Figgy and the President

Matilda reviewed her own copy of this book.

Figgy and the President by Tamsin Janu, Scholastic Australia, ISBN 9781742991559

This is a sequel to Tamsin Janu’s first book, Figgy in the World. Figgy is a determined girl who is good at making friends. One day she is walking through the market when she meets some Obrunis (white people) who ask if she will be in a movie they are making. Soon, Figgy’s whole town asks for her autograph. On top of that, Figgy’s mama has come home — after 10 years — and she is having a baby! Figgy is unsure if she wants her mama to be home because she wants to stay living with Grandma Ama, and she’s secretly worried that her mama will love the new baby more than her (Figgy). Then Nana (who is Figgy’s best friend) goes missing.

Because of the title, you might expect that Figgy meets the president of Ghana. This is an extreme understatement. But she does have to help rescue the future president … (The future president is very good at making speeches.)

I recommend Figgy and the President for ages 7+, and also for people who like an exciting adventure story.

Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  Our Home is Dirt By Sea. 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: Bella and the Wandering House

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 9, WA

Bella and the Wandering House

Bella and the Wandering House by Meg McKinlay, ill. Nicholas Schafer, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925162301

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

This is another book by Meg McKinlay. I have also read Duck for a Day, Definitely No Ducks, and Ten Tiny Things. This is a novel with occasional pictures in black and white.

Bella is a girl who lives in a house that seems to be moving at night and then stops at different places. It’s hard for her mum and dad to get to work every day from a different place. But then things really get out of hand when Bella finds out the movers will cut her house in half to move it back to where it belongs.

A house that wanders around reminds me of Baba Yaga’s house with chicken legs from folktales.

It was a very imaginative book. I wouldn’t like it if my house walked away at night. I recommend this book for ages 6 and up.

Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 11, WA

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, ISBN 9780439813785

Joseph borrowed a copy of this book from his local library.

Hugo is an orphan and his job is to check that all the clocks in the Paris station are the correct time. It was really his uncle’s job — Hugo can’t show his face to anyone official (like the station inspector) because then they’ll realise his uncle is gone and send Hugo to an orphanage. His uncle’s uncashed cheques are no good because Hugo can’t cash them. One day he finds an automaton his father was working on before he died. When his father’s notebook (the only thing Hugo has left to remind him of his father) is taken away, he relies on a girl called Isabel to get it back.

Will the automaton write him a message that will solve his problems?

This book has words and pictures. It’s a combination of graphic novel and a regular novel and it means you are satisfied that you read about 520 pages, when 284 pages were text-free!

It’s definitely worth reading. It has an original idea and the setting is not something I’d come across in everyday life.

I’d recommend this book to readers aged 9 and over, particularly kids who are fascinated by machinery. I give it five stars.

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