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

Book review: One Careless Night

REVIEWED BY HANNAH, 12, QLD

One Careless Night by Christina BoothOne Careless Night, written and illustrated by Christina Booth, Black Dog Books, ISBN 9781925381856

Hannah received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

“They hunt, but they are also hunted. Carted away. Sold for bounty. And then, one careless night – the last thylacine is gone.”

This beautiful picture book portrays the story of the last known living thylacine. The thylacine has been an endangered species since the year 1936. It begins with the basic life of the featured young thylacine and her mother, listening to the whispers of the night and running to keep up with them. Hunting, playing, growing. They are living a normal life, that is until they become the hunted. She’s kept captive in an unknown forest, one of concrete and cold floors.

The illustrations in the book are absolutely stunning. They perfectly show the expression of pain and agony of the two thylacines, as well as the pure elegance and beauty of the wild and silent nights that they are sharing together. The writing of the book is also wonderful. It makes you feel like you’re right in the moment, running with the thylacines, amongst the mist of the mountains and the cold night air.

It is definitely a good book to read to older children, aged 10 to 12. It didn’t seem to be a book aimed at smaller children as the overall themes were quite dark and scary. I believe smaller children (aged 4 to 9) may find the book overwhelming, so I do not recommend the book for that age group.

Get excited for the release of One Careless Night, written and illustrated by Christina Booth, this month!


Hannah is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews here. 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 Lion in Our Living Room

The Lion in Our Living Room by Emma Middleton and Briony StewartREVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

The Lion in our Living Room by Emma Middleton, ill. Briony Stewart, Affirm Press, ISBN 9781925584226

Matilda reviews her own copy of this book.

Tom and Tilly want to play lion games with their dad. The story is told poetically — it rhymes and it’s very rhythmical. The phrasing allows you to use lots of expression so it’s good to read out loud, like this:

Will he come? Won’t he come? Will he come and play?
Will the mighty lion come and play with us today?

The illustrations are by Briony Stewart who has written and illustrated other books like the Kumiko series and The Red Wheelbarrow. The illustrations are done in colour pencils and I like how you can see the pencil strokes because you can see that it’s not computer done. I was lucky to meet Briony Stewart at the Fremantle book launch, where there were also fun activities related to the book like making lion masks, lion face painting, and making paper lions.

This picture book will be great for kids aged 6 and under who love playing and being imaginative.


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. You can read Matilda’s other reviews here. 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: Do not lick this book

Do not lick this bookREVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

Do not lick this book by Idan Ben-Barak, illustrated by Julian Frost, A & U Children’s, ISBN 9781760293055

Matilda received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

This picture book is an information book about germs — how small they are, and where you’ll find them. This is an interactive book and as part of the story you have to take Min (a microbe) on an adventure. Do not lick this book includes photographs taken with a microscope to show close-ups of paper, teeth, your shirt, and your belly button (your skin), as well as comic-style illustrations.

I like how it turns a serious topic into a fun story with cute germ characters. I found the teeth page very interesting with the close-up view of your teeth.

This book is bright, funny, and child-friendly. It’s great for ages 4+. I’m  11 and I still found it entertaining and interesting. So did my mum (and she’s 43).


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. You can read Matilda’s other reviews here. 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, Oxley Christian College

Book review: The Snow Wombat

REVIEWED BY JEREMIAH, 8, VIC

The Snow Wombat by Susannah Chambers, ill. by Mark Jackson, Allen and Unwin, ISBN 9781760113810

The Snow Wombat by Susannah Chambers, illustrated by Mark Jackson

Jeremiah borrowed a copy of this book from his school library.

The Snow Wombat is a heart-warming story of a curious little wild wombat who sees lots of nature covered in snow, including the high country and his nose!

This is a beautiful story with amazing illustrations and incredibly funny words in it. It encourages little kids to predict the rhyming words.

I rate this book as suitable for 3–4 year olds. My joy rating is 100%.


This is Jeremiah’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Oxley Christian College

Book review: Gary

REVIEWED BY ZAC, 8, VIC

Gary by Leila Rudge, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781925081695

Zac borrowed a copy of this book from his school library.

Gary by Leila RudgeGary is like the other racing pigeons but when they depart in the travel basket, Gary stays at home.

Gary can’t go anywhere because he can’t fly!

When the others arrive back home, Gary collects notes about their experiences so that he can remember. But, is Gary still the same as the other pigeons? Will Gary eventually find a way to travel?

I recommend this book for kids aged 4–8 years old.

Leila Rudge’s words and illustrations are outstanding. They hook the reader into the ordinary, but then extraordinary, life of Gary.

I give it a 6-star rating.


This is Zac’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Oxley Christian College

Book review: Chip

REVIEWED BY NICHOLAS, 9, VIC

Chip by Kylie Howarth, The Five Mile Press, ISBN 9781760400736

Nicholas borrowed this book from his school library.

Chip by Kylie Howarth

Every seagull loves chips and Chip is a cute little seagull who loves fish and chips especially. However, when he gets banned from his favourite chip store near the Beach, he tries to form a plan with his friends to get access to his precious chips again.

How will they get their chips back so they don’t starve?

I think this book will be wonderful for children aged 3 and over. It has excellent pictures to show the little ones what is happening and describes the setting in detail. I personally think it is a magnificent book.

I give it a 10 out of 10 rating.


This is Nicholas’s first book review for Alphabet Soup. If you’d like to read more book reviews by Oxley Christian College students, you can click on ‘Oxley Christian College’ in the grey categories box in the right column of this blog. To send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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

Book review: One Thousand Trees

One Thousand TreesREVIEWED BY MATILDA, 11, WA

One Thousand Trees,
by Kyle Hughes-Odgers,
Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781925164725

Matilda received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

This is about living the city with polluted air, and how Frankie wishes there were trees. And then Frankie starts to imagine …

I’ve seen some of Kyle Hughes-Odgers artwork before, in Ten Tiny Things (written by Meg McKinlay), and also on walls and murals around Perth.

One Thousand Trees is reflective and shows you what happens in Frankie’s head as Frankie imagines a forest of trees. The story is told mostly through the illustrations, with not many words, and the words that are there are mostly prepositions. I like the shapes used for the trees and leaves, and the range of greens in the forest pages. (At the beginning of the book you see mostly greys and dark colours). The endpapers are good to look at — they change from the front of the book to the ones at the back of the book because of the story.

This picture book would suit children who live in the city, and kids who would like more trees in their environment. This book suits ages 4 to 8.


Matilda is one of our regular book reviewers. You can read Matilda’s other reviews here. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Posted in illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the Book Baton: Gabriel Evans

PASS THE BOOK BATON

Gabriel EvansIt’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator 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 the book baton is passed to Gabriel Evans. He has illustrated over twenty books and designed over a hundred greeting cards, painted large gallery artwork, and travelled across Australia presenting illustration workshops and seminars in schools and festivals.

Here are some of the books he’s illustrated:

Last week Sue Whiting asked:
What would you do differently in terms of the development of your career as an illustrator if you had your time over again?

Gabriel answers:
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Sue during her time at Walker Books.

If I was to have my time again I would definitely experiment more with my art. I was always trying to make perfect, beautiful pictures that limited my experimentation.

It’s only in recent years I take enormous pleasure and satisfaction from making risks and discovering new, creative systems. That means using BIG brushes, spray bottles, palette knives, goose feathers, cardboard, fingers, sticks and anything else I can think of.

It’s all about learning through creative, messy fun!

Find out more about Gabriel Evans and his books and art — visit his website!


Meet MarlyAnd now Gabriel passes the book baton to the next Friday visitor — Alice Pung. Alice writes books for a range of ages. You might have read her Marly books from the Our Australian Girl series.

Gabriel asks:
“You’re both a solicitor and author. How do you balance these two jobs? Is there a connection between the two?”

Check in every Friday for mini interviews with children’s authors and illustrators. 

See you next week!

Posted in authors, illustrator, Pass the Book Baton

Pass the book baton: Kylie Howarth

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator 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 the book baton is passed to picture book author and illustrator, Kylie Howarth. Kylie’s books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA. She grew up in the country with a dog, sheep, orphaned kangaroos and even an echidna.

Last week Geoff Havel asked:
How much of your love of stories and your ability to write them comes from your own childhood on a farm and how much comes from being surrounded by children now?

Kylie Howarth answers:
I do draw from my own childhood and now more than ever appreciate all the experiences my parents gave me. Not every kid had pet kangaroos or spent a year traveling around Australia. As a child I loved drawing and have always been fond of animals and the beach, which are both reoccurring themes in my books.

That being said I am now focused on creating stories that my children love. Their interests and personalities are definitely the biggest inspiration for my work. They contribute so much to my books too as I am constantly tweaking text and layouts based on their reactions and feedback. We also create paintings together in our backyard art sessions, which I then scan and use as textures in my illustrations.

For more info about Kylie Howarth and her books (and colouring sheets and craft activities), visit www.kyliehowarth.com


Celebrating Australia: a year in poetry (cover)And now Kylie Howarth passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Lorraine Marwood. Lorraine is an award-winning children’s author and poet. Her most recent poetry collection is Celebrating Australia: A Year in Poetry.

Kylie asks:
“Which of your poems or books means the most to you?”
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
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See you next week!

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Posted in authors, Pass the Book Baton, poetry

Pass the Book Baton: Sally Murphy

PASS THE BOOK BATON

It’s Friday! And that means it’s time for Pass the Book Baton. Every week Alphabet Soup features a book creator 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 the book baton is passed to Sally Murphy. Sally has written over forty books for children including picture books, novels, non fiction, and verse novels. Her poetry has been published in magazines, anthologies and online. Sally’s latest book is Sage Cookson’s Fishy Surprise — book three in a series about a girl with parents who are celebrity tv chefs.

 

Sally’s next book — coming soon! — is called Looking Up. You might recognise some of these other books by Sally Murphy:

Last week Gabrielle Wang asked:
I would love to know how you began. I’m interested in hearing about that transition between being unpublished to being published. Did it take you long? Did you ever want to give up? Did you have many rejections?

Sally answers:
Where did I begin? Gosh that’s a hard one — I was always a writer. I started writing ‘stories’ before I could actually write anything legible, and as I grew up I didn’t really stop. I made up poems and stories all the time. I always knew I wanted to be an author, though by the time I left school I was less sure about how I would achieve that and earn a living.

So, although I kept writing I also did other things: became an English teacher, got married, had children. And I wrote in my spare time, and I submitted manuscripts, not really knowing a lot about the industry. I was rejected repeatedly. But persistence paid off. First I had a few poems published in small publications. Then, by chance, I saw an advertisement for teachers to write educational resource books and the next thing I knew, I had my first book contract. I was published!

It was a few more years, still writing and bringing up children (I have six) before I realised my dream of having fiction published. The educational books gave me the confidence to keep going, and I spent a lot of time studying market guides, and researching publishers and publishing on the internet, as well as improving my writing by writing, rewriting, getting critiques from a critique group, attending conferences and workshops and so on.

Looking Up by Sally Murphy
Looking Up (coming soon!)

My first trade publication came about because I saw online a call for manuscripts for a new chapter book series. I read the guidelines carefully and also read the few titles which had already been published in the series, to get a feel for what the publisher (Banana Books) wanted. Then I wrote, revised and submitted two manuscripts. The day that one of those was accepted was amazing.

Now, twenty years from my first educational book being published, I’ve had over 40 books (trade and educational) published. I still get rejections — more rejections than acceptances. And every time I get one I feel sad. But I also know that no piece of writing is wasted. Published or unpublished, that manuscript has added to my skills, a bit like sportspeople learn from every game or every training session.

Do I ever want to give up? Yes. When I get lots of rejections. Or when I can’t get a story to work. Or when I get a negative review. But the feeling never lasts long. I’m a writer. Writing is what I do.

Visit sallymurphy.com.au to find out more about her and her books.


Dropping InAnd now Sally Murphy passes the baton to the next Friday visitor — Geoff Havel. Geoff’s most recent book is Dropping In; an action-packed novel that explores friendship, bullying, and living with a disability.

Sally asks:
What is the thing (or things) you are most proud of in your writing career to date?
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Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
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See you next week!

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