authors, Pass the Book Baton, poetry

Pass the Book Baton: Sally Murphy


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 I’m interested in hearing about that transition between being unpublished to being published.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 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?
Check in every Friday for questions and answers from children’s authors and illustrators.
See you next week!







Young Writers in Action

Young Writers in Action: No Cake!


by Joshua, 8, NSW

“Hooray, hooray! It’s my birthday!”

On 8th September I turned 8, but today is 9th September. At ten-thirty, my birthday party began. Every friend arrived right on time!

“It’s time for games, everyone,” Mum said, clapping her hands. Dad took a huge piece of paper and stuck it on the floor with Blu Tack. Then we drew a game of hopscotch on the paper and we played it.

When we were playing the games, an uninvited brother of a friend also came. He saw my birthday cake! After we finished the games we saw that the birthday cake was all gone! Luckily we found the little brother. But no birthday cake! I felt a bit sad.

The brother had a picture of a cupcake on his shirt. It gave me an idea! I told Mum my idea.

She said, “What a good idea for a birthday surprise!”

She quickly got a shopping bag and ran out the door. Mum came back with white sugar, flour, eggs, cinnamon, butter, oil, some icing sugar and blue pink, red and yellow food colouring. Then mum and I got ready.

After we were prepared, I told everybody to come to the table. When we all got to the table, we made and decorated our own cupcakes. With the icing sugar and food colouring, we wrote our own name. Mine said, Happy Birthday Joshua. I forgave the little brother and thanked him for coming. And I hope he comes again!

This is Joshua’s second story published with Alphabet Soup. His earlier story was The Mystery of the Thief! and you can read it here.  If YOU would like to send us a story, drawing, poem, or book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy writing!

Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Wonder


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!





Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Matilda

Book review: The Flyaway Girls


The Flyaway Girls

Matilda borrowed this book from her local library.

The Flyaway Girls by Julia Lawrinson, Puffin Books, ISBN 9780143308652

The Flyaway Girls is a novel about a girl called Chelsea who is really serious about gymnastics. She starts getting her hopes up about getting into the nationals competition as she gets better and better. But then a new girl comes and is catching up to her quickly, except for one thing holding her back — the vault. The badge ceremony is drawing closer and closer. Will the new girl stop Chelsea getting into the nationals?

I recommend this book for ages 8+ or serious gymnasts like Chelsea. I really enjoyed this book though, and I’m not a gymnast.

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