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Spring issue 2012 – OUT NOW!

Ah, spring—it’s just around the corner. All you champion readers, writers and artists—keep an eye on your letterboxes. Our spring issue is hot off the press!

Alphabet Soup issue 16 (cover)

Here’s what you’ll find inside issue 16:

… and more!

Subscribe via our website (you can order single copies from the subscribe page, too). If  you’re in WA, check out 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 by the end of the week.

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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.

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Autumn Issue – out now!

You can crumple it, fold it, cut it, write on it, post it, paint on it, roll it into a scroll, make collage with it … and so much more. What are we talking about? Paper! Our autumn issue was posted to our loyal subscribers yesterday—and it’s all about paper.

Alphabet Soup issue 14 coverHere’s what you’ll find inside issue 14:

… 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 autumn issue to sell you from Tuesday 21 February 2012.

Happy National Year of Reading!

Christmas, info

Summer issue coming soon!

The summer issue of Alphabet Soup is only a few weeks away. We can’t wait to show you the cover by the winner of our design-a-cover competition! As you know, the theme for the summer issue is Medieval. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find inside:

  • Q&A with Norman Jorgensen, author of The Last Viking
  • WA fencer Ben Peden
  • Poems, stories and book recommendations
  • Writing tips from the Book Chook.

… and lots more!

Magazine covers
Subscribers receive four copies per year

Christmas subscriptions: Light to post and perfect for kids who love books and creative writing! Let us know if you’re ordering a subscription as a gift.  You can request that the first copy be posted to you (so you can wrap it to put under the tree) or we can post it to the recipient with your message attached on 20 December 2011. Simply add your message in the ‘message to seller’ box if ordering via our website. Or email our editor with your instructions/message.

Plus, subscribers with an Australian delivery address go into a draw every issue to win a $200 book pack. The book pack for our summer 2011 draw is provided by Scholastic Australia! (Note: books in pack may differ from those pictured.)

Books from Scholastic Australia
Subscribe and go into a draw for a $200 book pack!

Keep reading and writing!

Rebecca (Editor)


Three Quick Questions: Susan Stephenson (#4)

All through October, Alphabet Soup is celebrating turning three. We have heaps of writers and illustrators stopping by to answer THREE QUICK QUESTIONS and today’s visitor is Susan Stephenson, also known as The Book Chook, and author of Monster Maddie.

"Monster Maddie cover"

1. Where do you like to write?

We have a tree in our garden called the Thinking Tree. There’s a seat at its base where I love to sit, because it’s so peaceful there. I scribble and think, think and scribble, and listen to what my characters have to say.

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

One of my favourite books is Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land Sea and Air. It was written by Stewart Ross, illustrated by Stephen Biesty, and published by Walker Books. I loved its stories about real-life explorers, and also all the maps and foldouts and the fantastic detailed drawings. Find out more about it in my review at The Book Chook. 

Into the Unknown (cover)

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

I think the very best phrase to use when stuck is “what if … ?” What if my hero falls flat on his face in front of the dragon? What if a raven swallowed the ring? What if the bully has a phobia about grasshoppers? That question has taken my stories in many surprising directions!

Susan Stephenson is a writer who lives about as far east as you can go on Australia without falling off. She loves reading, writing and pretending to be a chicken. Susan writes a blog about children’s literature, learning and literacy at The Book Chook.

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

(Psst … check back tomorrow, when illustrator James Foley answers our Three Quick Questions.)

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Spring Issue out Monday!

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover of issue 12—out on Monday. (Hurrah!) If you’d like to subscribe, all the details are on our website.

Alphabet Soup magazine, spring 2011


  • Q&A with Briony Stewart, author-illustrator of the Kumiko and the Dragon series
  • Sail away with Mike Cunneen
  • Stories and poems for kids by Australian writers
  • Kids’ writing (your own stories, poems, artwork and book reviews)
  • Writing tips for kids from The Book Chook
  • Our spring short story comp for kids & our design-a-cover comp
  • Crossword

and more!

authors, teachers' resources

Susan Stephenson, bullying and MONSTER MADDIE

18 March is the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. Today we are talking to author, Susan Stephenson (aka The Book Chook), about her picture book, Monster Maddie."Monster Maddie cover"

A bit about the book:

On Maddie’s first day at a new school, nobody notices her, even though she hangs around the edges of the other kids’ games and hopes to join in. On the second day, she becomes Monster Maddie, with ‘fangs and claws and wild, wild hair … “I’ll show them!” she said’. Of course her mean and hurtful behaviour doesn’t win her any friends and she realises nobody is going to invite her to play. She stomps away in tears—then, with the help of a curious kitten,she  finally comes up with a better way to join in on the playground.

What sparked the idea for you to write Monster Maddie?

As a school teacher, I saw lots of kids like Maddie. They didn’t understand how to make friends, and acted out. They did mean hurtful things in a desperate effort to be noticed and they certainly didn’t realise their behaviour was driving other kids further away. Sometimes those kids grow up to be bullies; sometimes they’re lucky—they realise what’s happening, and make an effort to be friendly. I wanted to write a book for those kids.

When I was at University, studying German, we read a book called Metamorphosis by a writer called Kafka. In the beginning of that story, the main character wakes up as a giant bug. I guess the idea of Maddie actually looking monsterish came from the profound effect that book had on me. I’ve also written a short story where a guy wakes up as a rooster. So far, I have only woken up as a human, but that doesn’t stop me checking the mirror each morning!

Did you ever feel like Maddie when you were growing up?

I certainly felt awkward in new situations, but I don’t remember putting ooze in people’s shoes and dirt in their shirts! I was lucky in that when I switched schools I had lots of my friends with me. Being a new kid is difficult. Often it seems that people are ignoring you, when they just need you to find a way to include them in a game.

How long did it take to write Monster Maddie?

Months and months. The hardest part for me is always the rewriting of a book. I get feedback on it from my writing friends, think about it, put it away for a while and make changes to it when I can see it with fresh eyes.

You say you have to rewrite after you write the story down. Is Monster Maddie very different from the first version you wrote?

It was always a story about a little girl who got mad when the kids at her new school wouldn’t notice her, and turned into a monster.  I think what changed was that it got fine-tuned. I deleted unnecessary words, made the structure of the story stronger, and worked hard to make sure the story sounded good to read aloud.

Have you met Monster Maddie‘s illustrator?

No, K.C.Snider lives in the USA and I live in Australia. But I talked to her via email.

Are you working on a new project at the moment?

At the moment, I’m working on two novels and a picture book. The picture book is about some sheep who want very much to go to the farmer’s wedding, only they aren’t invited. They try hard to get in, and end up succeeding in a most surprising way.

Monster Maddie includes 7 pages of activities, including a script for Monster Maddie to be performed. Do you think picture books make good theatre?

I think picture books are wonderful! They are perfect for kids to use to create their own reader’s theatre around, or just to act out the story for family and friends. I have a  series of four articles at The Book Chook blog where I talk you through the process of using Reader’s Theatre.

You can find out more about Susan Stephenson and her books on her website. The Book Chook has writing tips for kids in every issue of Alphabet Soup magazine. You can find more about literacy for parents and teachers on The Book Chook’s blog).

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Autumn 2011 Alphabet Soup is out!

Issue 10 cover Alphabet SoupThe autumn issue of Alphabet Soup magazine was posted yesterday, so if you are a subscriber—you’ll find it in your letterbox sometime over the next few days. Yay!

Here’s what you’ll find inside issue 10:

  • Q&A with author, Oliver Phommavanh
  • How to have fun with chemistry (2011 is the International Year of Chemistry!)
  • Writing tips for kids from The Book Chook
  • Stories and poems by children’s authors and poets
  • Stories, poems and book reviews by kids
  • Crossword
  • Our autumn writing competition

Later today we’ll be announcing the winners of our summer 2010 writing competition and posting the winning poems here on the blog. AND we’ll be posting the Q&A with Oliver Phommavanh. So stay tuned!


"Book pack from Fremantle Press*"

Are you a subscriber? Subscribers are entered into a draw every season – this season’s winner receives a $200 book pack from Fremantle Press! (Books may differ from those pictured.)

Subscribe to Alphabet Soup

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Summer 2010 issue out 7 December!

"Alphabet Soup magazine issue 9 cover"

Inside issue 9 of Alphabet Soup magazine:

  • Q&A with Hazel Edwards, author of There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake (and many more books!)
  • Australian Wetlands at Perth Zoo
  • Stories, poems and book recommendations
  • Kids’ writing (your own stories, poems and book reviews!)
  • Crossword
  • The Book Chook’s writing tips for kids
  • Summer 2010 writing competition

Oh! And don’t forget to admire the cover. The artwork is by Angel Hatton, the winner of our design-a-cover competition.

SUBSCRIBE NOW FOR CHRISTMAS and we’ll post your order on 20 December 2010 with a postcard attached notifying the recipient that it is a gift subscription from you.

Subscribe online and write ‘Christmas gift’ in the ‘message to sender’ field or

Download an order form and send it in with your cheque or money order (and note on the form that it is a Christmas gift).

A 1-year subscription is only $29.80 (including p&h)

authors, teachers' resources

“Lights out!” (The Book Chook)

Monster Maddie

Today’s visitor will be familiar to regular readers of Alphabet Soup. We’re pleased to welcome The Book Chook – a writer, editor and reviewer. She has a column in every issue of Alphabet Soup magazine with great writing tips for kids! Her picture book, Monster Maddie, was published in 2010. What did The Book Chook read after ‘lights out’ when she was growing up? She’s here to tell us today.

I love stories. Fiction books mostly, but I’ll take a story any way I can get it. When I was a child, Mum and Dad didn’t think reading was a good enough excuse to stay up past bed time. Parents are strange like that, aren’t they? If they saw the light on in my room, they would take my book away. So I would grab my torch and book, huddle under the bedclothes, and read my book like that.

The problem with this was oxygen. Or rather lack of oxygen. I would read for so long that pretty soon I’d used up all the air. So I’d surface for a while, take a few quick, quiet gasps, then go undercover again.

One night I had an idea. I took my brother’s snorkel into my bedroom, put the mouthpiece in my mouth, and stuck the other end above my bedcovers. It tasted rubbery and a little salty, but it was better than suffocating.

Undercover Readers cartoon © Susan Stephenson 2010
Image courtesy The Book Chook

This time, the problem was Mum finding the snorkel under my pillow next day. Do you think she believed me when I said I wanted to dream about being underwater?

Nowadays, when the lights are out, I have finished reading all I want. But if somebody said I couldn’t read, I know that would just make me want to read even more. I bet I could invent something ingenious – maybe a tiny headlamp for seeing, connected to a mini oxygen tank for breathing. I would read lots of great books undercover – ones that make me laugh, with characters I like who go on adventures or solve problems.

Alphabet Soup’s book review club is called UNDERCOVER READERS. You don’t have to read under the bedcovers to belong, but if you do and you run out of air, can I suggest a snorkel?

© 2010 The Book Chook

The Book Chook has a blog for parents and teachers featuring fantastic literacy resources and tips.

Alphabet Soup magazine is celebrating the launch of Undercover Readers (our new reviewers club for kids)!  If you’d like to join the Undercover Readers Club, you’ll find an information pack you can download from the Alphabet Soup website. As part of the celebrations, we have a different children’s author or illustrator visiting Soup Blog each day until 29 June 2010 to talk about what they used to read after ‘lights out’ when they were growing up. So be sure to check back tomorrow!