Book reviews by kids, Glenridge Elementary School

Book review: HiLo

Image shows the cover of a children's book: HiLo, The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick. The cover illustration shows a boy with yellow hair, a red shirt with a letter H on it, blue jeans and sneakers. He's holding his hands up in the air and each hand is in a fist, circled with yellow glow. Behind him is a boy with short black hair and a girl with brown skin and a pink shirt. They are all standing on a road.


HiLo by Judd Winick, Penguin UK, ISBN 9780141376929

Ezra read his school’s copy of this book.

Have you ever read a graphic novel with a funny robot? Well then HiLo is the book for you. I think you should read it because there are portals and powers/magic.

In the story, HiLo and Izzy came from a planet of powers/magic. And they are both robots. Their best friends are DJ and Gina. DJ is funny and is a normal person. Gina, on the other hand, is also a normal person but she learns crazy good magic from their friend, Polly. Polly is a cat that can talk and he came from the same planet as RAZORWARK. RAZORWARK was a good robot to protect the earth. But then someone changed his orders.

One reason I like this book is because I like robots. In the story HiLo is a robot and he shoots coins out of his bellybutton! Another reason I like this book is because HiLo and Izzy are hilarious. For example HiLo and Izzy poop out pencils! And that is my favourite part of HiLo. The third reason why I like this book is that in the story Polly makes up the funniest jokes EVER!

I hope you can read this book right away. I recommend this book for kids ages 6 and up. I give this book 10 out of 10 stars.

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!

Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Reuben

Book review: Pow Pow Pig

Pow Pow Pig: An Unexpected Hero by Anh Do and Peter Cheong


Pow Pow Pig: An Unexpected Hero by Anh Do, illustrated by Peter Cheong, Allen and Unwin, ISBN 9781760526405

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Pow Pow Pig is about a pig named Piccolo who joins an organisation called CHOC because he wants to help animals in need, but he ends up always on kitchen duty …

My favourite character is Piccolo. Books about pigs always seem like funny books. This is a hilarious book. I even love the cover. The size of the title makes me laugh. The illustrations suit the story and are also hilarious. There are also stickers inside, at the back of the book.

Pow Pow Pig is similar to the Captain Underpants books and The Bad Guys series. Kids who like pigs, funny books, exciting books and novels (there are nine chapters in this book) will love this too.

I think 7 to 10-year-olds would enjoy this book most. Kids older than 10 would still enjoy it though, and kids who are younger than 7 would enjoy it if someone reads it to them.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Pow Pow Pig: An Unexpected Hero is out now! Ask for it at your favourite bookshop or local library!

Reuben is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. Check out his earlier reviews here. To send us YOUR story, poem, artwork or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

authors, illustrator, interviews

James Foley on Chickensaurus


James Foley. Photo by Jessica Wyld Photography.
James Foley (photo by Jessica Wyld Photography)

Chickensaurus by James FoleyJames Foley is a Western Australian author, illustrator and graphic novelist. James uses a variety of materials and tools to create his books: pen and ink, pencil, charcoal and watercolour. He also uses digital tools: Adobe Photoshop, a Wacom graphics tablet, an iPad Pro and the Procreate app. His latest book is the fourth instalment in the hilarious S. Tinker Inc series: Chickensaurus.

From the publisher:

Sally Tinker, the world’s foremost inventor under the age of 12, is back with a new adventure in invention. When Sally’s nemesis hatches a fowl and poultry plot, there’s no room for the lily-livered. Sally and co will need all their pluck to return the world to its rightful pecking order.

On with the questions!

Assuming you’ve never seen a real chickensaurus, how did you design your dinosauric creatures in Chickensaurus?
I started off with some of the dinosaurs that everyone is most familiar with – T-Rex, velociraptor, stegosaurus, triceratops and pteranodon (though technically that last one is a pterosaur, not a dinosaur). I drew them normal to start with, then added chicken-y details on and gave them silly names. Sometimes the bits I added were suggested by the silly name I gave them – for example, the stegosaurus became an eggosaurus, so it’s basically a giant walking egg. Some of them just started out as a silly drawing and then I found an even sillier name for them – for example, the velociroosters turned up in my sketchbook in 2016, and there were other versions of lizardy chickens in my sketchbooks as far back as 2012.

Just how many chicken puns do you have in your archives? (Would Chickensaurus win the record for the most chicken jokes in one book?)
I hope so! (Though is that really a record that I want my name to be on? Should I be proud or ashamed?) I gathered as many silly jokes as I could and then found places for them in the book. There’s one particularly pun-filled part that I’m strangely proud of, where a character gives a long ‘villain speech’ using as many chicken and egg puns as I could fit in. It’s very, VERY silly.
Chickensaurus is Book 4 in the S. Tinker Inc series of graphic novels. You also write and illustrate picture books. What’s different about the way you go about creating your graphic novels, compared to your picture books?
They’re basically the same process; graphic novels just have A LOT more drawings and A LOT more words. But there is one difference with my writing; when I’m writing a graphic novel I write it out like a movie script. It’s mostly just what the characters say to each other, with a few descriptions of the settings or the action that are basically notes for myself. On the other hand, when I’m writing a picture book the text is usually more than just what the characters say.
Do you have one tip for young storytellers who’d like to create their own comic books or graphic novels?
Yes, and it’s an easy one – read lots of comics! It doesn’t matter if they’re superhero comics, or funny comic strips, or big fancy graphic novels … just read lots of them. And while you’re reading them, pay attention to the ways that the authors and illustrators tell you the story. Notice the things you like about the comic and maybe have a go at trying some of the same drawing or writing techniques. Notice the things you didn’t like so much about the comic and then ask yourself what you would have done differently. You can learn HEAPS just by reading other people’s work.
Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
My next two projects are a short Sally Tinker comic adventure that will go into next year’s School Magazine, and a picture book about animals in space!


Chickensaurus is out now! You can buy it from the publisher’s website, find it at your favourite book store, or ask for it at your library. 

Chickensaurus by James FoleyAWESOME EXTRAS:
Click here to watch an interview with James Foley for Paper Bird Books Home Club (1/2 hour YouTube video)
Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: The Nelly Gang

   The Adventures of Nelly Nolan: The Nelly Gang by Stephen Axelsen,   ISBN 9781921977916, Walker Books Australia

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

Reviewed by Joseph, 9, WA

The Nelly Gang (cover)

This book is a graphic novel — it’s a bit like a comic book with lots of picture frames but it tells one long story through the whole book.

Nelly’s gang are Nelly and her friends Miro, Jin, plus Nelly’s goat. Nelly lives in Christmastown in Victoria in 1860 with her Pa who is looking for gold. When he finds gold (lots of gold!) they decide to go back to Sydney to find Nelly’s Ma. But someone knows about their gold and bushrangers are everywhere — like Captain Sunbeam and also Captain Moonshine. (The title of the book made me think of Ned Kelly, but Ned Kelly is not in this book.) The Nelly Gang have to fight the bushrangers.

The pictures in The Nelly Gang have interesting things to look at in the backgrounds. In a normal book you would have lots of description in words but the comic-style pictures do that in a graphic novel. I like the message tree — the posters on it made me laugh. Nelly’s goat (Queen Victoria) also makes me laugh. That’s my favourite character. And I liked funny lines like ‘as rich as pigs in a parsnip patch’ which is what Pa says to Nelly when they are weighing his gold.

Boys and girls age 8+ would thoroughly enjoy this. You learn a bit of history like what clothes are like in 1860, what school was like (the kids used slates instead of books and pencils), what money they used, how people lived in the goldfields, how they weighed gold and what their transport was like (horses and carriages).

When I got to the end I wondered what will happen to Nelly next so I would like to read a sequel. I would rate this book 9.5 out of 10.