Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Catherine Carvell

PASS THE BOOK BATON

Catherine CarvellIt’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Catherine Carvell takes the book baton today. Catherine is an Australian author living in Singapore (but soon heading back to WA!). Her first book is Darcy Moon and the Deep-Fried Frogs, a humorous adventure story about a girl with a mission to save the swamp.

If you like the sound of Darcy Moon you can read a sample chapter of the book.

 

Last week Oliver Phommavanh asked:
What is one thing you’d like kids to walk away with after they’ve read your book?

Catherine answers:
I tried to make Darcy Moon and the Deep-fried Frogs as funny as possible, with lots of disgusting and embarrassing situations to make kids cringe and laugh. So the one thing I’d like kids to walk away with after reading this book is … a smile!

Darcy Moon and the deep fried frogs.


The Smugger's CurseAnd now Catherine Carvell passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Norman Jorgensen. Norman is the author of many books including The Last Viking, and The Last Viking Returns. His latest book is The Smuggler’s Curse.

Catherine asks:
Your latest book was released in October and what an adventure!
My question to you is, have you based any of  The Smugglers Curse on real life? And if so, which bits are real?
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
See you next week!

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Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: AL Tait

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today bestselling author AL Tait takes the baton. AL Tait is the author of The Mapmaker Chronicles — a series full of danger and adventure.

The Mapmaker Chronicles

Last week Paula Hayes posed a question (actually two questions!) for AL Tait. She asks:

Q. Which book in your Mapmaker Chronicles series have you enjoyed writing the most?

A. It’s funny, but kids always ask me which of the three books are my favourite, and I always give the same answer: I love them all. But then, I qualify that answer. I love the first book a little bit more because that’s where I met all of my characters for the first time. As someone who doesn’t plot very much, I’m really watching the story unfold and the characters develop in much the same way as the readers are.

Q. Does creating a series get easier or harder to achieve?
I think the most difficult part of any series is the middle. But then I feel the same way about every book I write — the middle (act two) is the most difficult section to write. I’m in the process of writing a brand new series at the moment and I’ve whisked my way through book one, and am about to climb the mountain that is book two. Writing a series does teach you the value of at least having an outline to work from, even if you don’t plot every detail.


BrobotAnd now AL Tait passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — James Foley. James is an illustrator and an author-illustrator. His most recent book is a graphic novel, Brobot.

AL asks:
You started out as an illustrator — what made you decide to write In The Lion and Brobot yourself? As an author-illustrator, do you start with the words for a story or start with the pictures?

Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators. See you next week!


Visit The Mapmaker Chronicles website for more about AL Tait and her books. You can read an earlier interview with AL Tait at Alphabet Soup, too.

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Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Paula Hayes

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Alphabet Soup features a book creator every Friday who will answer one question before throwing a new question to the next Friday visitor. (It’s kind of like a book relay in slow motion.)

Today Perth author Paula Hayes takes the baton. Paula has one husband, four children, three dogs and five rabbits. She is the author of a YA novel and also a recent children’s novel, Lily in the Mirror, which one of our regular reviewers (Matilda, 10) described as ‘creepy but good’.

Last week Joshua Button and Robyn Wells posed a question for Paula. They ask:

Q. Your character Lily loves all things dark and mysterious. Were you inspired by any real life mysteries, strange events or unusual people?

A. Lily loves all things dark and mysterious and so do I. I like fantasy that is almost scary but not too scary.  The book was inspired by a room in my grandmother’s house full of vintage family treasures. The door would shut behind you but that was because the house really did need restumping and not due to supernatural events. But add a little imagination … and I was in the Rosy Room.


And now Paula Hayes passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — AL Tait. AL Tait is the author of the bestselling series, The Mapmaker Chronicles. The Mapmaker Chronicles

My question(s) for AL Tait:
Which book in your Mapmaker Chronicles series have you enjoyed writing the most? Does creating a series get easier or harder?

Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators. See you next week!


Visit Paula’s website for more about her and her books. You can read Matilda’s review of Lily in the Mirror on Alphabet Soup’s site.

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

Book review: The Island of Dr Libris

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 12, WA

The Island of Dr Libris

The Island of Dr Libris by Chris Grabenstein, Random House Children’s Books, ISBN 9780553538434

Joseph borrowed this book from his public library.

I really enjoyed Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library (another book by the same author) so I was excited to find this book at the library. Although I enjoyed it, it wasn’t as good as Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library, which was my favourite book this year.

In this book: In the holidays Billy has to go to a boring cabin with his mum instead of staying at the apartment with his dad. Billy’s mum rented the cabin from Dr Libris, her university professor, for a very good price and she’s going to sit and work on her dissertation all holidays. Billy has to entertain himself, so when he smashes his iPhone and there is no other technology he has to amuse himself by reading books from Dr Libris’ giant collection. But as he starts reading he can hear strange sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life. Together with Walter — a boy he met around the cabins — he goes to investigate what’s happening on the island.

This is a fantasy adventure I would recommended for ages 10+ because it has quite a lot going on in the book and you need to be able to follow it. You’ll appreciate it best if you already know about well-known characters from classic literature like Robin Hood, Tom Sawyer and others.


Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library. 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 Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 12, WA

ESCAPE FROM MR LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY by Chris Grabenstein

Escape from Mr Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein, Random House Australia, ISBN 9780857988232

Joseph borrowed this book from his school library.

Mr Lemoncello is the greatest game-maker that has ever been. When Kyle learns that his public library has been bought and redesigned by Mr Lemoncello he is desperate to win a place on the Library Lock-in this Friday. Then the children who win a place at the Lock-in discover the rules have changed. They will be racing against the clock to escape from Mr Lemoncello’s library and there will only be one winner with a cool prize.

The redesigned library is now full of awesome stuff like holograms, a domed roof covered in electronic screens, and interactive electronic ‘games’. (It makes me jealous — that library is so much better than any libraries I know.)

The story is well-written and you have to think of two or more paths for a puzzle to make all those parts slide together. I’ve reread this book lots of times since I first read it a month ago. This book hooks you from the start and keeps you wondering. It reminded me of the Encyclopedia Brown stories in parts because it gave you the opportunity to solve the clues yourself as you read along. There are also references to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and a range of other classic and modern books and authors.

This wacky, intriguing read is my favourite book this year. I can recommend it for readers 10+ (and advanced readers of 9+) because it makes the book more enjoyable if you understand the references and literary in-jokes.


Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of Wonder. 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 Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Wonder

REVIEWED BY JOSEPH, 12, WA

WONDER by RJ Palacio.

Wonder by RJ Palacio, Random House Children’s Books, ISBN 9780552565974 

Joseph borrowed this book from his school library.

August is born with a facial deformity and people think he’s ugly. He has always been home-schooled but now he has to go to school and face first impressions and bullies. There are 8 parts of the book (or 9 if you count the Julian chapter). In parts 2–5 you can read everyone else’s point of view before continuing with the rest of the plot. This meant you had background to the other people in the book and I liked that. It doesn’t have a standard plot and it was different from other books I’ve read.

Wonder reminded me a lot of the book Ugly by Robert Hoge (one of my Top Reads choices in 2015), and it makes me wonder if Wonder was based on a true story too.

This was a good read, well-written and engaging — and I wanted to keep reading it all in one run.

I would recommend Wonder for advanced 10-year-old readers and above.


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

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 10, WA

The Silver Donkey

The Silver Donkey by Sonya Hartnett, Penguin Australia, ISBN 9780143301578 

Matilda borrowed this book from her school library.

Two sisters called Marcelle and Coco discover a soldier in a French forest. He’s blind and he’s trying to go home across the Channel. If anyone discovers him he might be shot because he has run away from the war and so the children need to help him without telling anyone.

The silver donkey is a lucky charm that was given to the soldier by his little brother. Coco likes to hold it while the soldier tells the sisters interesting tales about donkeys. In every tale a donkey is spending its life pleasing or helping someone else. Coco was my favourite character in the book because she had a lot of enthusiasm and she was very determined. It was different from other books I’ve read. It was a very calm and gentle book even though it was about children planning to help a soldier escape.

This book will suit readers aged 9 to 12 because it talks about war. It’s a good book for readers who like a realistic story with a historical setting.


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen. 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: The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 10, WA

THE REMARKABLE SECRET OF AURELIE BONHOFFEN by Deborah Abela.

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen by Deborah Abela, Random House Australia, ISBN 9781741660951

Matilda borrowed this book from her school library.

This story is set at a pier where Aurelie’s family owns and runs a ghost train. But the pier is now becoming broken down and old and the family can’t afford to fix it up. Someone is trying to pressure them into selling the pier — but they really don’t want to sell their beloved home because it’s been in the family for generations …

On the cover Aurelie is wearing strange clothes so I expected she would be a strange girl. I liked her because she was honest and proud of being different. I like books with lots of adventure and excitement and The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen was a fast moving story and also had mystery, ghosts, family, friendship and hope. You will have to read the book yourself to find out what the remarkable secret is.

Readers aged 9+ will enjoy this book — especially readers who like fantasy elements in their books.


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  Song Bird Superhero. 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: Nightbird

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 10, WA

Nightbird

Matilda reviewed her own copy of this book.

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, Yearling Books, ISBN 9780385389617

Twig is a young girl with a huge family secret. When an ancient relative of the late Agnes Early moves into the house next door, Twig is forbidden to go there. Can Julia, Twig and Agate help to break a curse?

I love the name Twig, and this was the best book I’ve read this year. Nightbird is a fantasy novel — and I really liked that it was a story that could happen in real life with a few magical tweaks.

If you enjoyed Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars, this is the sort of book you’ll enjoy. (And if you haven’t read Molly and Pim, you should read that too!)

I recommend this book for children ages 7 and up.

Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  Four Children and It. 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: Four Children and It

REVIEWED BY MATILDA, 10, WA

Four Children and It audiobook

Matilda borrowed this audiobook from her local library.

Four Children and It by Jacqueline Wilson, read by Jacqueline Wilson, Bolinda Audio, ISBN 9781486234127

This book is based on another book called Five Children and It by Edith Nesbitt.

Four Children and It is about four children (Rosalind, her brother Robbie, her step-sister Smash, and half sister Maudie). They meet … something … that grants them a wish a day, which lasts until sunset. But what if something goes wrong?

It was exciting and Smash was selfish and annoying but Maudie was cute. It made me want to read Edith Nesbitt’s original story.

I picked up this audiobook at the library because I’m into Jacqueline Wilson’s books and I’ve read everything else by her in our library. I recommend this book for ages 7 and up. Even grandmas will enjoy it (well, mine did!).

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