teachers' resources

Book Review: Brain Drain

"Brain Drain by Christine Harris"Brain Drain by Christine Harris, ill. by Gus Gordon. Published by Hodder Headline Australia, ISBN 9780733612763

Reviewed by Elliana*, 9, WA

Brain Drain is about a young boy called Hamish. Hamish has a sister called Lucy. One day Hamish had too much time on the computer playing silly games when he got brain drained and the computer swapped brains with him. Lucy told her parents but they didn’t believe her. How can Lucy get old Hamish back and not acting like a computer anymore?

I think this book is suitable for girls and boys aged 9+ because they might find this book a bit confusing. I give this book 3/5. I liked the book because it was funny and silly.

[Brain Drain is out of print but your local library may have a copy.]

"Undercover Readers Club logo"*Elliana is a member of our Undercover Readers Club. A review copy of Brain Drain was provided by the author.

authors, teachers' resources

“Lights out!” (Sheryl Gwyther)

Today we are launching Alphabet Soup magazine‘s UNDERCOVER READERS CLUB – the new reviewers club for kids aged 12 and under! As part of our online celebrations, we’ve invited a different children’s writer or illustrator to visit Soup Blog every day until 29 June 2010 to tell us about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up.

Our first visitor is Sheryl Gwyther, author of Secrets of Eromanga, and Princess Clown. Her writing has also appeared in the NSW Schools Magazine, and the anthology, Short and Scary.

"Secrets of Eromanga (cover)""Short and scary (cover)""Princess Clown (cover)"


"Sheryl Gwyther (photo)"
Sheryl Gwyther

What happens when you are reading an extremely exciting bit in a book and Mum or Dad says, light’s out!?

You keep reading, of course! Out comes your trusty torch. You wriggle under the covers and once again, you are lost in the book. This is exactly what I used to do when I was younger.

Once upon a time, before I owned a torch, I tried to use a candle to read in bed after ‘light’s-out’ – never thinking of the danger involved with fire. Burning wax on my fingers and on the floor stopped me. Maybe my mother saw the wax drops everywhere, because not long afterwards my parents gave me my first torch.

There’s a powerful image in my memory of reading in the dark with a torch. It happened when I was about eight. I had to get up for school the next day and Mum was nagging me stop reading and go to sleep. But I was caught up in the Silver Curlew (a book by Eleanor Farjeon), an exciting story about a young girl’s fight to save her sister from an evil imp. How could I possibly sleep?

I hid under the sheet with my torch, reading. Everyone else had gone to bed. It was dark outside and still, and the story was at a creepy, scary part. Then, an eerie wailing sound came from the trees outside.

It was a nocturnal bird called a Bush Curlew. I snapped shut the book, flicked off the light and burrowed back under the sheet in the dark, remembering my grandmother’s words … Curlews always wail when someone is dying. I was too scared to go to sleep!

If I had a ‘Light’s Out’ curfew put on me tonight, you would find me reading (with the aid of my trusty torch) a spell-binding story by Kate Forsyth, The Starthorn Tree. It’s the first in a series. When I’ve finished this one, I can start on the second one, The Wildkin’s Curse. Do you think my torch battery will last?

© Sheryl Gwyther 2010

Visit Sheryl Gwyther’s website, and her blog for more information about her books!

"undercover readers logo"If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we have a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day until 29 June 2010 to talk about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up.

info, teachers' resources

Join our Junior Reviewers Club!

Have you heard that Alphabet Soup magazine is starting a Junior Reviewers Club for kids aged 6 to 12?

You can write reviews of books you love, and go on our list of club members who would like to receive free books to review. Your reviews will be published in the Write On section of Alphabet Soup magazine, or occasionally here on Soup Blog.

Membership to the Junior Reviewers Club is free, and club members can be individual children, or a primary school class. (In the case of a class, we will send one book for the class to read together, and class members can write a collaborative review, or individual reviews).

While club membership is open to Australian and overseas children, currently we can only send review copies to Australian addresses due to the high cost of postage. (But members outside Australia are welcome to submit reviews of their own books, and receive the members’ newsletter.)

Parents and teachers can request an application pack by emailing the editor or  download the application pack from the homepage of the Alphabet Soup website.