Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Pearl Verses the World

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy, ill. Heather Potter, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781921150937

"Pearl Verses the World"


Matilda reviewed her own copy of this book.

I saw this on the bookshelves at our house — I’ve met the author and I also really like Roses are Blue and The Floatingest Frog by Sally Murphy, so I read the first few pages of this book and I didn’t stop.

This book is about three people: Pearl, her mother and her grandmother. And that’s how it’s always been. But suddenly Pearl’s life changes. Her grandmother is ill and her mother is thinking they will have to send her grandmother to a nursing home.

This is a sad book. I liked the characters Mitchell Mason and Prudence Jones because they were very interesting people. Pearl Verses the World is a verse novel and I liked it even more than Roses Are Blue, which is also a verse novel.

I would recommend this book to kids 7+ because it’s about school and it might be too sad for younger kids.

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

Posted in info

Roses are Blue giveaway winner

roses are blue

Our Roses are Blue giveaway closed on 6 August. We put all the names into a soup bowl and pulled out the winner — TESSA BENNETT!

To enter, you were asked to visit the Poetry Tag website and choose your favourite poem (by Sally Murphy). You also had to tell us why you chose that poem.

Tessa said:

Fond Farewell is my favourite poem by Sally. It reminds me of my mum. At school drop off, even in the car, I wish had some Mum repellent too! At least if I had my head buried into Roses are Blue she might not come at me!

Congratulations Tessa! We hope you enjoy reading Roses are Blue.

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

Book review: Roses are Blue (+ giveaway)

Roses are Blue by Sally Murphy, ill. Gabriel Evans, ISBN 9781922244376, Walker Books Australia

roses are blue


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

This is a book about a girl called Amber who loves her mother but her mother has changed after an accident. Amber doesn’t want her mum coming to the Mothers Day party at school because she’s very embarrassed about her.

I really liked this book because at the start it made me feel very sad and then at the end I was happier. It was quite quick to read and had some interesting words.

The style of the drawings was the sort I like. They were black and white and there were lots of them. When you look at the pictures you can understand what’s happening in the story even better.

I would recommend Roses are Blue to my friends because it’s a change from the other sorts of books we read and it could be a true story.

This book would be good for ages 6 and older.

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

Matilda (8) reviewed Roses are Blue as part of Sally Murphy’s blog tour launching the book. We have one copy of this book to give away to an eager reader (yay! yay!).


Roses are Blue is Sally Murphy’s third verse novel. As well as nonfiction and fiction, Sally has had many poems published. You can read some of her recent poetry on the Poetry Tag blog.

1. Visit the Poetry Tag blog and check out the poems there.
2. Choose your favourite poem by Sally on the Poetry Tag site.
3. Email us and in 50 words or fewer let us know the poem you’ve chosen and why. Include your name and postal address. (If under 18 ask a parent or teacher to email your entry to us.)

Some fine print:

  • Entries are open to adults and children. Children will need to ask a parent or teacher to email their entry to us.
  • Entrants outside Australia welcome — but we will only post the book to an Australian address, so you’ll need to nominate an Australian address for us to post it to if you win.
  • You may only enter this giveaway once.
  • This giveaway ends 10am WST (that’s when it’s 10am in Perth, Western Australia) on Wednesday 6 August 2014.
  • All entrants’ names will be put into a soup bowl and one name will be drawn out to be the winner.
  • We will announce the winner on the blog within a week of notifying the winner.
  • This competition is not open to immediate family members of Alphabet Soup employees.
  • The prize includes one copy of Roses are Blue by Sally Murphy — mailed to one winner.
  • The winner will be notified via email.

This giveaway is part of a blog tour to celebrate the launch of Roses are Blue. For more about Sally Murphy, verse novels and Roses are Blue, check out the other stops on the blog tour:

Tuesday, July 22nd Karen Tyrrell (includes a giveaway)
Wednesday, July 23 Alphabet Soup (includes a giveaway)
Thursday, July 24 Kids’ Book Review
Friday, July 25 Write and read with Dale
Saturday, July 26 Diva Booknerd
Sunday, July 27 Children’s Books Daily
Monday, July 28 Boomerang Books Blog
Tuesday, July 29 Australian Children’s Poetry
Wednesday, July 30 Sally Murphy

Posted in poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Visiting poet: Sally Murphy

Sally murphy

Do Not Forget Australia coverToday have a talented visitor — Sally Murphy, writer of children’s books and poetry. You might have read some of her poems in Alphabet Soup magazine and she also has two verse novels published. Her latest books include Meet Mary MacKillop and Do Not Forget Australia (these aren’t poetry books but they are good reads!). Sally is visiting today as part of our Poetry Festival.

When did you first start writing poetry?

I don’t remember  —  it feels like I always wrote poetry. I loved playing with words and making up stories from when I was really little, and as soon as I learnt to write I wrote them down. In primary school I wrote poetry  in class, and also entered writing competitions and wrote poems for my family. My first published poetry was in school magazines and I remember also being published in the local paper as part of writing competitions.

What sort of poetry do you like writing?

Most of my poetry is what you would call free verse — unrhymed, almost narrative poems. But I also love playing with rhyme.

What sort of poetry do you like reading?

Good poetry. I don’t  care what the structure is, I just like to read a poem that makes me go “ooooooh”.  Usually it does that by saying something almost perfectly in a way that makes me think.

Where can we find your poetry?

In books — I’ve had two verse novels published by Walker Books (Pearl Verses the World and Toppling), a rhyming picture book (Pemberthy Bear) and a collection of performance poetry (Assembly).  I’ve also been published in magazines including The School Magazine and the wonderful Alphabet Soup.

"Pearl Verses the World"

toppling (cover)

Here is a poem I wrote about writing a poem:


Kids crying

kids sighing

kids chewing pens

or writing.


and wriggling

and impatiently jiggling.

Passing notes

scrumpling and crumpling pieces of paper

as the clock tick tock ticks

and Miss Imms paces the room

waiting for our poems to appear.

See how I wrote the poem (and maybe write one of your own) here.

How often do you write?

I try to write every day, though I will confess it doesn’t always happen. But I carry a notebook wherever I go, and try to snatch even just five minutes to write whenever I can.

Do you prefer to write with a pen and paper or straight onto the computer?

Pen and paper, when writing poetry. I think it helps to connect with my creative side, and allows me freedom to just write it all down without worrying about spelling or anything. Then I can cross out and rearrange and experiment. I also have sets of magnetic words which I like to play with to create poems.

Your number one tip for budding poets?

Write a lot. Don’t worry if it isn’t all perfect — have fun messing about with words. The more you write the better your writing will get. Oh, and I know you only asked for one tip, but it goes hand in hand: read a lot. If you want to write poetry, read a lot of poetry.

Sally’s Poetry Prescription

IF YOU’RE HAVING A CRANKY DAY — read the following poem:

I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed — and gazed — but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

The language is a little old fashioned (it was written in the nineteenth century!) but the image of thousands of daffodils always makes me smile.

You can learn more about Sally Murphy, her books and poetry by visiting her website and by checking out this earlier post on Soup Blog.  

Interview with Sally Murphy © 2013 Sally Murphy and Rebecca Newman
Posted in info, National Year of Reading

Winter 2012 issue – out now!

You have probably heard lots of talk about reading lately and that’s because 2012 is the National Year of Reading. Our winter issue celebrates the National Year of Reading (because we do love reading and we know you do, too!).

Here’s what you’ll find inside issue 15:Alphabet Soup issue 15 cover

… and more!

Subscribe via our website (you can order single copies from the subscribe page, too). If  you’re in WA, rush in to one of our WA stockists—Westbooks (Victoria Park) and Zero to Ten (South Fremantle) who will have copies of the winter issue to sell you from Wednesday 16 May 2012.

Happy National Year of Reading!

National Year of Reading button 




Alphabet Soup magazine is a proud partner of the National Year of Reading.

Posted in info

Three Quick Questions – Sally Murphy #22

All through October, Alphabet Soup has been celebrating turning three. We had lots of writers and illustrators visiting our blog to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS. Today we have our last visitor, Sally Murphy—poet and author. Her books include Pearl Verses the World, Toppling and many more …

"Pearl Verses the World"

toppling (cover)

1. Where do you like to write?

At home—either at my desk or on the kitchen table. My desk has lots of piles of paper—ideas, drafts, books to read, and so on. So sometimes I have to move away from my desk to the kitchen table.

But I can write anywhere.  I carry a notebook in my bag and if I have a few minutes to spare, or if inspiration strikes, or I suddenly know what is going to happen next, I can grab the notebook and start writing.

2. Can you name a book you’d recommend to our readers?

Just one? I am happy to say that I read all the time (even more than I write) It is a great way to improve your writing skills, and of course it’s fun, too. One book I read recently that has stayed with me is Angel Creek, by Sally Rippin, about some kids who find an injured angel and decide to keep it.


Angel Creek (cover)
Sally Murphy recommends Angel Creek by Sally Rippin

3. Can you offer a word or phrase that kids could use for inspiration if they have writer’s block?


Find out more about Sally Murphy—visit her official author website, her website for kids and her book review website—Aussie Reviews.

That’s the end of our Three Quick Questions series. In case you missed any, here are links to all our visitors. (Check out your favourite writer or illustrator’s recommended read and writing prompt!)

Oliver Phommavanh

Frane Lessac

Wendy Orr

Susan Stephenson (The Book Chook)

James Foley

Tania McCartney

Mark Wilson

Cristy Burne

Sheryl Gwyther

Aleesah Darlison

Katrina Germein

Rebecca Cool

Sandy Fussell

Frederique from poetry blog, Fred’s Petals

Norman Jorgensen

Jackie Hosking

Claire Saxby

Kathryn Apel
Dee White

Robyn Opie

Janeen Brian

Sally Murphy

© October 2011 “Three Quick Questions with Sally Murphy” by Rebecca Newman (Alphabet Soup magazine)


Posted in book reviews, Book reviews by kids, Duncraig Primary School

Book reviews by Duncraig Primary: Day 5 pt 2

Duncraig Primary School (in WA) has sent us some year 5 students’ book reviews.* We’ve been posting two reviews a day for the last 5 days and this is the final review. Well done to all the students for their fabulous reviews and for sharing some great books!

Pearl Verses the World, by Sally Murphy, ill. by Heather Potter. ISBN 9781921150937, Walker Books Australia.

"Pearl Verses the World"Reviewed by Lauren, age 10, Duncraig Primary.

This award-winning book is fantastic if you love reading books with characters, through their eyes and about their lives.

This book has won TWO awards WOW! One is a bronze award for a short-listed book and the second award is for a silver award for an honour book.

Pearl is a girl who is very fond of her grandma. She tells us at the beginning of the book that she is alone and that she is a group of one. Some of the groups at school which are not groups of one and are very tight are the ballet girls, rough kids and footy boys. Pearl tells us about her life at home and at her school. She soon finds out that she is really good at writing poems.

The wonderful illustrations that Heather Potter has done really put the picture in your mind, like you are there watching it in your own eyes. So, if you like books that make you feel you’re there watching the story, borrow it from a friend or take it out of the library today or buy it at a local book store.

I loved reading this book because it had poems in it and I especially loved the poem at the end. This book also has a bit of sadness in it, therefore I would recommend it for ages between 8 and 12 years.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

*Duncraig Primary is a member of our Undercover Readers Club. Books reviewed here are the students’ own.

"Undercover Readers Club logo"