Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Book review: The Billy That Died With Its Boots On

The Billy That Died With Its Boots On by Stephen Whiteside, ill. Lauren Merrick, ISBN 9781922077431, Walker Books Australia

The Billy that died with its boots on (cover)

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

Joseph is reviewing his own copy of this book.

This is a book where the poems are all by an Australian poet, written in Australian bush style. But not everything is about Australia — like the poem called ‘The Poles’ (as in the north and south) and there’s a dinosaur section.

Some of the poems remind me of me (especially the poem about cleaning your room). As I do with poem books, I picked out the extra interesting looking ones first and then later I went back and read the others. Some of the ones that looked interesting at first were ‘The Sash’, ‘The Saucing of the Pies’ and ‘The Icecream that Hurt’. They were all very good poems.

My favourite poems in this collection are: ‘The Poles’ and ‘The Comforts of Home’. I like the ideas behind them and the rhythms, and they’re good to say out loud as well as to read to yourself in your head.

There aren’t many pictures in this book. The illustrations are black and white and they stand out well.

Children aged 6 and above will love this book — even adults, because the style of the poems suits children and adults. My number one tip is to read the poems out loud or get someone to read them out loud to you. I’d like to read more poems by Stephen Whiteside. I like these so much I might choose one of these poems for my next school Oracy exam.

This book is best read while eating pies with sauce.

Read our earlier interview with the poet, Stephen Whiteside.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The 52-Storey Treehouse. 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 52-Storey Treehouse

The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, ill. Terry Denton, ISBN 9781742614212, Pan Australia

The 52-Storey Treehouse

 

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

Joseph is reviewing his own copy of this book.

I had to wait a whole year for this book. When it finally came out I read it from cover to cover in one sitting and I’ve read it many more times since.

This is the fourth book in the Treehouse series and once again 13 new storeys have been added, including a watermelon smashing room. But Andy and Terry soon remember something important — Mr Big Nose has forgotten to remind them about the deadline for the new book and he has gone missing. Could it be related to that book Fun with Vegetables by Vegetable Patty? They take off on an advegetable story (an adventure with vegetables) with the help of a little caterpillar with a surprising secret. And what has happened to Jill? Why won’t she wake up when Andy and Terry explode in?

I liked lots of things about this book. Firstly, the unexpected plot. My little sister kept wrongly guessing the next step of the plot. I liked the characters — some minor characters from earlier Treehouse books are back, and there are some new ones as well. My favourite part was the craziness of everything in the book, especially Terry’s ninja snails.

My special tip for reading this book is that you should read the other books in the series (like The 26-Storey Treehouse) first because then the jokes are funnier and they make more sense.

The illustrations in this book are by Terry Denton (like in the earlier books). They are just perfect for the Treehouse series because there are lots and lots of them and they’re the sort that you don’t get bored with. His drawings are like first drafts, it’s like you’re seeing them when he’s just finished drawing them. I like that.

I would recommend this book for 7 to 13 year olds and all adults who like a bit of humour. My special warning: if you’re scared of spiders, skip over Terry’s spider pictures — they are pretty scary. Both boys and girls will enjoy reading this book.

I rate this book 9.5/10 and it’s my favourite book in the series.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Our Village in the Sky. 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, poetry

Book review: Our Village in the Sky

Our Village in the Sky by Janeen Brian, ill. Anne Spudvilas, ISBN 9781743318140, Allen and Unwin

Our Village in the Sky

 

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

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

This is a book about kids living in a village in the Himalayan mountains. Our Village in the Sky is a book of poems and each poem talks about what the kids do during the day. They have to do chores like take care of the animals, wash clothes and scrub dishes, carry water from a water pipe, and more.

I found it interesting because I didn’t know much about this sort of life and it’s very different from the lives of Australian kids. The kids in this book don’t have the technology that we have, they spend their days doing chores so their families can live, and they make their own fun outdoors. My favourite pages are the ones about the children washing the dishes in summer and winter. But my favourite poem (as a poem) is the one about playing knucklebones.

The illustrations are realistic, serious pictures and they help you to see what the kids in the village are like. It helps you to understand the emotions in the poems.

The book also has a QR code — it takes you to a website with audio. This is especially good for young kids who can look at the pictures and listen to the poems be read to them.

This book is good for kids aged 6 to 12. I would recommend this book especially for grades 3 and 4 in their classrooms because it teaches you about life in another country while enjoying a good read at the same time. I give it 7.75/10 — it’s not the sort of book I would normally pick up but I was glad that I did read it.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Bully on the Bus. 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: Bully on the Bus

Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel, ISBN 9780702253287, UQP

bully on the bus

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

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

This book is a cross between a kids’ novel and a poem book. (This means it’s a verse novel.) This is the first verse novel that I’ve ever read.

It’s about a young boy called Leroy who is getting bullied on the bus by a high school student called DJ. Leroy is getting scared of DJ and doesn’t want to go to school on the bus any more because of DJ. Leroy is left shattered after he makes a special green monster cupcake for his teacher and DJ finds it in his lunch box, starts eating it, and smashes it on the floor of the bus. He needs to do something about DJ. But what?

I liked how each chapter was a poem and had its own title. I forgot it was a verse novel halfway through and I was very worried for Leroy and couldn’t stop reading. I will definitely read it again.

After reading Bully on the Bus I would like to read more verse novels and maybe try writing one too. I would recommend this book to kids in years 1 to 4 and their teachers — especially the kids because it teaches them about bullying.

I give this book 8 1/2 out of 10.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The Big Book of Old Tom. 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 Big Book of Old Tom

The Big Book of Old Tom by Leigh HobbsISBN 9781743318447, Allen & Unwin

old tom

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

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

In this book there are five Old Tom stories:

  1. Old Tom
  2. Old Tom at the Beach
  3. Old Tom Goes to Mars
  4. Old Tom’s Guide to Being Good
  5. A Friend for Old Tom.

I liked how it looks like a novel but inside it’s more of a picture book style so there were lots of pictures. The illustrations are humorous black and white sketches.

Because it’s such a chunky book to hold, it makes you feel satisfied when you finish it. My overall favourite was Old Tom’s Guide to Being Good because it has an unexpected twist.

This book is most suited to ages 6 to 9 because it’s good for kids who aren’t quite ready for big novels but are looking for something longer than a picture book. But I’m 10 and I still really enjoyed it.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The Cay. 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 Cay

The Cay by Theodore Taylor, ISBN 9780140366204, Puffin Classics

The Cay

 

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 10, WA

Joseph’s mum borrowed this book from the library.

In The Cay, a young boy called Phillip lived in Willemstad. Because the war is on, Philip and his mother go on a boat to sail back to their old home in the USA but their ship gets bombed. The next thing Phillip remembers, he was stranded on a raft with a few biscuits, some chocolate, some water, a cat (called Stew Cat), and an old black man called Timothy. The raft lands on a cay where they have to fight for survival, hoping there’ll be a rescue.

I didn’t know this book existed until my mum pulled it out and started reading it to me. I don’t normally read books like this. The start of the book was very slow but once we’d read about three chapters the story started to run along and it was very interesting.

I liked how Timothy used his survival skills to help Phillip learn how to survive on the island. Timothy has a strong accent and it didn’t say he did but the author wrote his speaking parts the way he spoke. I thought that was a good way to imagine how he spoke.

After reading this book I’d learnt a few things like what langosta is (a type of lobster) and that you don’t need a knife to get coconuts off a tree but you do need to be able to climb.

Boys and girls aged 10 to 14 would enjoy this book, especially if they’re into books about survival. Out of 10 I would give it 8.5.

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

Posted in Book reviews by kids

Junior Reviewers Recommend – Joseph’s picks

Joseph is 9 and lives in WA. He loves reading and has been reviewing books for Alphabet Soup since 2011. When he’s not reading, he likes writing, and playing cricket and when he grows up he wants to be an author or a cricket player. This year he has reviewed the Don’t Look Now series, Figaro and Rumba and the Cool Cats, The 39-Storey TreehouseThe Nelly Gang and Maximum Maxx.

Of the books he read in 2013, here are his favourites (they’re not in any order) —

Over 1000 (cover)the baked bean bandit

Over 1000 Fantastic Facts by Miles Kelly

The Baked Bean Bandit by Simon Mitchell

The 39 Storey TreehouseThe Nelly Gang (cover)

The 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated Terry Denton

The Nelly Gang by Stephen Axelsen

too small to failtreasure fever

Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman

Treasure Fever by Andy Griffiths, illustrated Terry Denton

the word spy"The Return of the Word Spy cover"

The Word Spy and The Return of the Word Spy by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated Tohby Riddle

tom gatesthe perplexing pineapple

The Tom Gates series by L Pichon

The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta: The  Perplexing Pineapple by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated Terry Denton

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

Book review: Don’t Look Now series

Don’t Look Now: Book 1 by Paul Jennings, ill. Andrew Weldon, ISBN 9781743311233, Allen and Unwin

Don’t Look Now: Book 2 by Paul Jennings, ill. Andrew Weldon, ISBN 9781743311400, Allen and Unwin

Don’t Look Now: Book 3 by Paul Jennings, ill. Andrew Weldon, ISBN 9781743311417, Allen and Unwin

Don’t Look Now: Book 4 by Paul Jennings, ill. Andrew Weldon, ISBN 9781743311424, Allen and Unwin

Series reviewed by Joseph, 9, WA

A copy of these books were provided by the publisher

This funny series is all about Ricky (the boy who can fly), Samantha (Ricky’s friend), Ricky’s mum and dad, and Jack (Samantha’s guide dog). Everyone calls Ricky a dork—once he tried to join the freckles on his nose like a dot-to-dot. (It didn’t work, he just got a face covered in pen.) Every book has one page with a single giant word on it: FAMOUS.

In book 1 Ricky learns that he can fly and there are good and bad things he can do with that skill. He’s trying to get back the kangapoo keyring his grandad gave him after an owl stole it from him.

Don't look now 1

In Book 2, Riley wants to show everyone he can fly but whenever he does he falls down.

Don't look now 2

In book 3, Ricky really wants to make friends with Samantha, the car wash girl. But all his strategies seem to fail.

Don't Look Now 3

In Book 4, Ricky’s problems continue. A flood is preventing Samantha and her school friends from getting their stuffed toys for the show’s exhibition. The toys are on the other side of the river …

Don't Look Now 4

This series is exciting—sometimes you can guess what will happen next but most of the time I have to keep reading to find out. Each book is very funny. There are lots of pictures (black and white sketches) and so many pictures makes it fun to read and extra interesting. The series reminds me of the ‘Treehouse’ series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton but instead of fantasy adventures this series is more everyday funny happenings.

I like that there are maps at the beginning and end of each book. You can find things like Samantha’s yard, and the Tower and Surrounding Areas. I also liked the lists of things like ‘Things to Know about People,’ and ‘Things to Know About Samantha.’

Boys and girls aged 9 to 12 would enjoy the ‘Don’t Look Now’ series. (Books 2 and 4 are my favourites.)

Joseph is one of our regular Junior reviewers. His most recent review was Figaro and Rumba and the Cool Cats

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

Book review: Figaro and Rumba and the Cool Cats

Figaro and Rumba and the Cool Cats by Anna Fienberg, ill. Stephen Michael King. ISBN 9781743313497, Allen & Unwin.

Reviewed by Joseph, 9 WA

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

Figaro and Rumba and the Cool Cats

Figaro and Rumba are friends — Rumba writes songs for the Cool Cats (a band) but Figaro likes to sing along and Figaro is not a good singer. This book is about these two friends and a little cat called Dora. The Cool Cats band’s best singer (Marta) has a car and Figaro, Rumba and Dora take the car for a drive without Marta knowing. They end up at the house of one of Dora’s friends and Figaro is sure there is some kind of monster following them. At the house, they make a discovery about Figaro …

Will Marta figure out that someone’s taken her car? What IS the monster? Can Figaro and Rumba fix their mistakes and save the day?

My favourite thing about the book is when Figaro has a dream — it’s a sort of warning about the monster. At that bit of the book, Dad told me it was bedtime and I didn’t want to stop reading. (Unfortunately I had to stop because Dad took the book away, so I finished it the next day.)

One thing that made me stop and think was ‘Why would the friends take the car without permission?’

The illustrations make the story even funnier and you get to know the characters more. I recognised the illustrator from The Pocket Dogs, which is one of my favourite picture books and if you liked Tashi, this is the same author as those books.

I give Figaro and Rumba and the Cool Cats 7.4 out of 10. I think 6 to 9 year olds would enjoy this book best because of the type of storytelling, and they will enjoy the illustrations.

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

Book review: The 39-Storey Treehouse

The 39-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, ill. Terry Denton, ISBN 9781742612379 , Pan Macmillan Australia

Reviewed by Joseph, 9, WA

The 39 Storey Treehouse

I’ve read The 13-Storey Treehouse  and The 26-Storey Treehouse, so when The 39-Storey Treehouse came out I looked for it at my library and saw with horror that every copy had four reserves on it already. I added my name to the waiting list and waited MORE THAN A MONTH for it to be my turn. When I got the library email to say it was waiting for me I thought ‘YES!’

This is the third book in the series and there are 13 more levels than in the previous book. I wanted to know what storeys they had added and I thought some were very clever like the not-very-merry-go-round. My favourite storey would be the Top Secret Not-Yet-Finished one and I thought the name of the machine on that level was great but I’m not going to tell you what it is because it’s better to get a surprise.

It was worth the waiting — this book is just as funny and interesting as the first two, though I still think that The 26-Storey Treehouse is my favourite because I really liked the new storeys they added in that book. The illustrations in this book made me laugh out loud and I really like the colour maps inside the covers of all the Treehouse books that give you a cool look at the new storeys each time.

I can’t wait till The 52-Storey Treehouse comes out in September 2014 to see what the new storeys will be.

Now I’ve finished it, I’d better rush this book to the library so the next kid on the waiting list can enjoy it too. I would recommend the Treehouse books to kids aged 6 to 12 and cheeky grownups too. I rate it 9/10.

Joseph is one of our Junior Book Reviewers. Here are two of his other book reviews: The Nelly Gang, and Maximum Maxx. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!