Book reviews by Celine, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Pharaoh, the boy who conquered the Nile

Pharaoh, the Boy Who Conquered the Nile by Jackie French, HarperCollins, ISBN 9780207200823

Pharaoh cover


Celine reviewed her own copy of this book.

Narmer is 12 years old, and is often referred to as ‘The Golden One’, by the people of his town because they believe that he has potential to be a ruler, to follow the footsteps of his father, the king. Although he is the second-born child, he is preferred by his father and was therefore chosen to be the heir to the throne. His older brother Hawk, is a pleasant and kind brother, and always treats Narmer with care. But as the days pass by, and Narmer becomes more worthy of the throne, Hawk may not want to be the gentle, caring brother anymore.

After an awful incident with a crocodile, Narmer finds that he has been left with scars and wounds that may disable him forever. He may not have the strength to lead his people anymore. When a foreign trader arrives from another town to offer goods for gold, Narmer discovers his gift for trading. He decides to become one of the trader’s apprentices, and learns from the trader’s ways, as the trader and his travelling group continue to journey across the Nile. Will Narmer be able to survive this journey? What will become of his future?

I admire Narmer because when times were tough, Narmer was resilient. He was daring, even as a little boy. This book is suitable for children aged 11 to 14 who enjoy historical fiction. If I were part of the Children’s Reading Council, I would award this book with the highest commendations. It is a must read for everyone!

Celine is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  My Life as an Alphabet. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by kids

Book Review: The Dog Who Loved a Queen

The Dog Who Loved a Queen by Jackie French, ISBN 9780732285081, HarperCollinsPublishers Australia

The Dog Who Loved a Queen


The Dog Who Loved a Queen is a touching story about a little Scottish Terrier — later named Folly, who was about to have the most amazing experience of his life.

When Folly was only a small puppy he was taken to be sent to Queen Mary as her dog. But when Folly arrives he finds himself in a bit of a tight spot. He gradually learns he can’t ‘widdle’ on the floor, which he has to go outside and do his ‘widdle’ there.

The book is written from Folly’s perspective, and it is interesting to read the about the ups and downs of being a dog. It is a heart-warming story about a dog who really loved a queen.

Guess what? You can read the first part of this book on the publisher’s site for free! Julia has shared book reviews with us before now — check out her 2012 review of EJ12 Hot & Cold.  (If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!)

Book reviews by Rebecca

Book review: Flood by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

Flood by Jackie French, ill. Bruce Whatley, Scholastic Press, ISBN 9781742830728

Flood (cover)A review copy of this book was sent to us by the publisher.

This book was written after the recent floods in Queensland. It tells the story of a flood—what happens before, during and afterwards—the power of a river and the people who are affected, and the kindness of strangers and volunteers.

Bruce Whatley notes at the end of the book that he did the artwork ‘vertically on an easel to get the paint running, enhancing the idea of wetness.’ The illustrations do seem to be still wet with paint dripping down the page—the reader follows the dog (shown on the cover) through the events of a flood as the people around him band together to save people and houses.

Scholastic advises that a copy of this book has been donated to every Australian primary school, and profits from sales will go to the QLD Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. At the end of the book there is some information about resources explaining what to do before, during and after a flood.

This is a book with a simple story and gentle illustrations that really help you imagine the landscape in a flood. It shows the danger and destruction of a flood—with a positive, hopeful ending.


© September 2011 “Review of Flood by Jackie French, ill. Bruce Whatley”, reviewed by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)
authors, teachers' resources

Literary auction: $$ for Qld Floods

Authors for Queensland is an online auction set up to raise money for the Qld Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal. Up for auction are books signed by the authors and/or illustrators, picture book illustrations, manuscript assessments for writers, author mentorships, Alphabet Soup subscriptions and much more. (Make sure you check with an adult about bidding for items.)

Items that caught our eye included:

  • Signed copies of Wendy Orr’s new book Raven’s Mountain (out February)"Raven's Mountain (cover)"
  • Signed copies of Katrina Germein’s My Dad Thinks He’s Funny
  • Signed copies of Karen Collum’s Samuel’s Kisses
  • Signed copy of The Tomorrow Book by Jackie French
  • A full set of signed Billie B Brown books by Sally Rippin
  • Signed copy of This is the Mud by Kathryn Apel
  • Signed copies of Famous and Chess Nuts by Julia Lawrinson
  • Illustration (unframed) by Judith Rossell from Janeen Brian’s book Too Tight Benito

The auction ends 24 January 2011.


MEDIA RELEASE: Alphabet Soup. A new children’s literary magazine.

Issue 1 cover
Issue 1 cover

Perth editor and mother-of-three, Rebecca Newman, has launched Alphabet Soup magazine for primary-school aged kids who love books and reading. Rebecca started work on the magazine 18 months ago, after she was unable to find a suitable magazine for her young daughter, who is an avid reader.

Schools, children’s libraries and early childhood educators have been enthusiastic about issue 1. Specialist literacy educators have previously imported similar publications from Canada and the USA — while despairing at the lack of a local product. Alphabet Soup magazine, with a section devoted to showcasing children’s writing, has found a ready-made readership.

Alphabet Soup will be very popular with children who love books, and already write their own stories,’ commented primary school teacher, Paulina Sweeney. ‘But magazines like this are also valuable for kids struggling with literacy. Seeing their writing in print gives a huge boost to their confidence, and that flows into their schoolwork.’

The magazine is not limited to children’s own work. ‘I aim to help kids develop a love of reading and literature, from a young age,’ says Mrs Newman. ‘I want to expose children to a variety of writing styles and genres … and also to give parents some ideas about suitable books for their children. There are many excellent children’s authors writing quality literature — but it’s not always easy for parents to know where to start.’

Inside issue 1, readers will find:
•    Q&A with children’s author, Jackie French
•    An interest article — interview with a WA bushfire brigade firefighter
•    Stories, poems and book reviews for children (by adults)
•    A crossword
•    A kids’ writing competition
•    6 pages of kids’ writing (stories, poems and book reviews)

Greg Mitchell’s colourful and quirky illustrations round out a really fun read!

Alphabet Soup is published quarterly and can be ordered online (, or by sending address details with a cheque or money order to the publisher.

Rebecca Newman (Publisher and Editor)
Ph: 0412 820 478

Alphabet Soup Publishing
PO Box 742
Willetton WA 6955 AUSTRALIA



Single copies: $7.00 (including GST)

1-year subscription (4 copies): $25.00 (including GST)

Free postage and handling until 31 December 2008 for all orders with Australian delivery addresses. Contact the editor for postage and handling costs to addresses outside Australia.

Rebecca Newman is available for interview.