Book reviews by Iona Presentation College, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Mel and Shell


The image shows the cover of a children's novel: Mel and Shell by Julia Lawrinson. The cover has a 70s vibe. In the centre of the book are two girls with the backs to the viewer. They are both wearing jeans and bright coloured tshirts, one has long blonde hair and one has shoulder-length brown hair. They are dancing, with hands above their heads. The remaining ilustrations make an oval 'frame' around the girls. Crammed into these illustrations are orange and pink flowers, a pair of yellow roller skate boots, a grey horse, and a bike.

Mel and Shell by Julia Lawrinson, Fremantle Press, ISBN 9781760990725

The publisher provided a review copy of this book.

Mel and Shell is a book about friendship, laughter, friendship problems and of course ABBA. This book is set 40 years ago when the world was obsessed with the sensational band ABBA.

In this book Shell and her classmates are writing to a pen-pal from 1829 about their day, what they would be surprised about and what they would like. 

Another character in this book is Sharon the girl who can’t get enough of herself. She is a mean person but gets people to think that she is nice.

There were many surprises in this book but one of my favourites was that they went on school camp and Sharon forced Shell to push her and some boys out to an island and something happens to one of them.

The cover of this book is amazing and tells a lot, and I love the characters; Shell is just so outgoing, kind and funny and Mel is adventurous and nice. I recommend this book for kids aged 10 and up and for anyone who needs a good book to laugh.

I give this book 5 stars for the creativity and the good plot.

Read our interview with the author and read an excerpt from the book.

Iona Presentation College students are members of Alphabet Soup’s review team. This is Kate’s first review for Alphabet Soup. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by kids, Book reviews by Kobe

Book review: The School for Good and Evil

Kobe recommends THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani. (This is a book for older readers.)REVIEWED BY KOBE, 9, WA

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 9780007492930

Kobe reviewed her own copy of this book.

Two girls that are friends are kidnapped at a certain time of their lives to find that one learns cruelty and evil while the other learns loyalty and good. In the end, the result is least expected because the two friends turn out to be great enemies.

Agatha was fine living in her town, Gavaldon and her friend Sophie. One night she was staying awake until she saw something black going towards Sophie’s house, she rushes over to find that they are both in a worse situation than she had planned. Then they are both kidnapped and taken to their true home. Agatha is surprised to see the location she is in because she had never known that fairy tales were real. She finds that she starts to like this new life that a black shadow of some sort has driven her in to. After that she finds that trying to be with her best friend Sophie was going to be impossible because a princess can never be friends with a witch. After an attempt to change clothes with each other, they find it not accomplishable to do.

My favourite part about this fantastic book is that this book always keeps you wondering what is going to happen, like when Agatha and Sophie both get kidnapped and Agatha tries to use matches, but it still doesn’t stop the shadow from pulling them on to a tree and a bird made from bones taking them to their rightful schools. You wonder which school are they going to go to and what they’ll learn and do in their school. I also like that it always seems that Sophie and Agatha are going to somehow die or at least be in great danger, but they always seem to avoid it, like when Agatha was hanging on the School of Evil’s roof and there was a gargoyle ready to breathe fire at her or eat her.

Kobe is a regular book reviewer for Alphabet Soup. You can read all her reviews hereTo send us YOUR book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

Book reviews by kids

Book review: Jacky Ha Ha


Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illustrated by Kerascoet Kerascoet, Little Brown & Co, ISBN 9780316262491

Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Jacky is known for her pranks, jokes and her stutter. Ever since she introduced herself as “My name is Jacky Ha-ha-hart,” in primary school, people made fun of her. She always played along, but middle school is a whole new area of trouble. She starts off with twenty detentions and is left with two options: get a double detention at home or go into a school play directed by a new teacher. But Jacky has another problem. Her loving mother is in Saudi Arabia because of war!

My favourite scene was the food fight at McDonalds. It started off as a rhyming competition and the loser was supposed to pay for all of the milkshakes. But in the end, everyone starts throwing pepper packets, squirting ketchup and mustard … even spraying Coke everywhere!

I also love the bit where Jacky and the people in the play put on a show for Jacky’s unwell Nona (her Italian grandmother) and the people in the old folks’ home. It is so heart-warming because her Nona is happy after the show. She couldn’t wipe the smile off her face.

The message of the book is that it’s ok to be yourself. Don’t let people mould you like some kind of clay. Cherish your personality because it doesn’t matter if other people don’t like it. I also learnt to not let the little things seem big. You have to let it go and just flip the page.

Azuki has had work published at Alphabet Soup before — 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 kids, Book reviews by Matilda

Book review: Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, Collins Modern Classics, ISBN 0007155026

harriet the spy (cover)


Matilda borrowed a copy of this book from her local library.

Harriet is 11 and she likes to know everything about people, so she watches them without them knowing (and writes all about them in her notebook). Her best friends are Sport (whose name is really Simon) and Janie.

One day Harriet is playing chasey with her classmates — they run around knocking books out of each other’s arms. One of her books is her notebook and a classmate picks it up and starts reading it. (Harriet hasn’t only written good things. This is a disaster.)

There were some interesting old-fashioned things in this book, like a dumbwaiter.

I liked how Harriet never gives up. Some of the book was funny, like the school play and the way Harriet’s dad talked (and sometimes how Harriet copies him) and when her dad joins Harriet in trying to act like an onion.

I like this book because Harriet wasn’t like anyone else I’ve met.

People aged 9 to 14 will like this book because it’s about kids at school, friendship and how writing mean things can break a friendship.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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