Book launches: August 2015 VIC and WA

Two more book launches — if you live in Victoria or WA, mark these dates on your calendar!



Come along to the launch of Bob the Railway Dog by Corinne Fenton and illustrated by Andrew McLean. This picture book tells a heart-warming true Australian story. This is a well-known legend in SA and a statue of Bob can be seen in the Adelaide Station.

Bob the railway dog (cover)

When: 11am, Saturday 1 August 2015

Where: The Railfan Shop, 4 Churchill St, Mont Albert, VIC (opp. Mont Albert Railway Station)

RSVP: by 29 July 2015 to corinneking[at]



Sister heart (cover)

Come along to the launch of Sally Morgan’s new book Sister Heart, to be launched by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Sister Heart is a verse novel aimed at 10 to 15 year olds.

‘ [a] personal and approachable conversation-starter about the Stolen Generations for mature young readers.’
— Bookseller + Publisher.

When: 6pm, Wednesday 6 August 2015

Where: New Edition Bookshop, 41 High St, Fremantle WA (cnr Henry St)

RSVP: Entry is free but places are limited and must be reserved in advance by contacting admin[at] or 9430 6331. Only those who RSVP will be allowed entry on the night.

New Edition has pledged to donate a percentage of all books sold at the launch of Sister Heart to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.


Why go to a book launch? Here are ten reasons why you should!

Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: On Track

On Track by Kathryn Apel, University of Queensland Press, ISBN 9780702253737

On track (cover)


Joseph received a review copy of this book.

This book is about two brothers (Shaun and Toby) and they couldn’t be less alike. One of them always gets As (Shaun) and the younger one is mostly a C person. When Toby goes to see an OT, he figures out he has a condition with his body. He starts training as a runner which he thought he couldn’t ever be good at but he wants to win an 800m race.

When I saw the cover of this book and that the author was Kathryn Apel I thought I would enjoy it because I liked her verse novel Bully on the Bus. It’s similar to Bully on the Bus because it’s also a verse novel but it’s not the versiest of the two books. Like Bully it’s also about two siblings and they also have to deal with a problem. On Track is for slightly older kids because of the length of the book — it’s longer — and because the characters in the book are older (Toby is 11).

Eleven and twelve-year-olds will like this book, especially athletic readers and fans of verse novels.

Warning: this book may contain traces of nuts. 🙂


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

Book reviews by Celine, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Toppling

Toppling by Sally Murphy, ill. Rhian Nest James, Walker Books Australia, ISBN 9781921529429

Toppling (cover)


Celine reviewed her own copy of this book.

I attended a Literature Centre session last term where Sally Murphy was teaching us how to write poetry. She showed us some of her books she had written, and this was one of them, so when they announced that they were selling some of Sally’s books, I jumped at the chance to buy my very own copy of Toppling.

John loves to play with dominoes; they are his passion. He plays with them in his spare time, and when his mother is not looking. Coincidentally, his best friend’s name is Dominic, which sounds a lot like domino. Dominic and John and have a group of friends, which consist of Joseph, Christian and Tran. They hang out together at school all the time, so when Dominic is suddenly sick, John, Joseph, Christian and Tran become very worried. Dominic has to go to hospital, and John and his friends have not seen him for quite a while. They hope he won’t pass away. Will John, Joseph, Christian and Tran ever see Dominic again?

This was a unique book, where the whole story was in verse. It is not rhyming poetry, but it was very entertaining, telling the story of a group of friends, and how they coped with their friend’s absence. I absolutely adored this book, and I felt so sorry for John, Dominic and their friends. I really hoped Dominic would get better soon.

I would rate this book 105%, and it is recommended to a very wide audience, especially people who have had a sick friend or family member.


Celine is one of our regular book reviewers. Her most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of  Pharaoh, the boy who conquered the Nile. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

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!

poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Kathryn Apel and her verse novel

bully on the bus
Bully on the Bus — a verse novel.

Today we have Kathryn Apel visiting us as part of the Alphabet Soup Poetry Festival. Kathryn writes fabulous poetry for kids. Some of you might remember Kathryn’s poems in Alphabet Soup (back when it was a print magazine) and her latest work is a brand new verse novel called Bully on the Bus. (You can read a review of Bully on the Bus in a previous blogpost — thanks to Souper reviewer Joseph, 10.)

We asked Kathryn if we could bombard her with questions about verse novels. (Luckily — she said yes!)

kat apel
Kathryn Apel dressed for the book launch.

AS: What IS a verse novel exactly?

KA: A verse novel is a story that is told in verse, either as a collection of individual poems that build to tell a story — or longer poems that stand as chapters in a larger story. Verse novels may be told in rhyme, or free verse.

AS: Can a verse novel rhyme?

KA: Oops. I answered that before I got to this question. I think, traditionally, verse novels did rhyme. But now there are lots that don’t. Mine don’t rhyme — but there are rhymes that sneak in, in places. I used to write lots of rhyming picture books, but I love that my verse novels don’t rhyme — so I can play with the words more … which includes rhyming play sometimes.
AS: What gave you the idea for Bully on the Bus?

KA: The idea came from an experience my boys had on their school bus … but as I was writing, I was  reminded me of my journey on the school bus as a child — with bullies. And suddenly I had more than enough ideas for Leroy’s story!

AS: Why did you choose to write it as a verse novel? (Why not a prose novel?)

KA: In fact, I did first write it as a prose novel — a chapter book for early readers. It was the Book Chook (Susan Stephenson) who helped me see that it really was a verse novel. Rewriting it as a verse novel was one of the most rewarding things I have done. I knew that this was the right format for Leroy’s story, because the words sang on the page.

AS: You write lots of poetry too. What’s different about writing a verse novel and writing a poem? 

KA: Great question. You’re really making me think with this …

A poem often captures a moment in time — or an event. A verse novel creates a bigger picture, and you become really involved with the characters — feel their emotions with them, and know how they’re going to respond. I think it’s the fact that the poems are a part of a whole that give them their strength … And because there are different emotions and experiences (and sometimes even different narrators — although not in Bully on the Bus, which is told through Leroy’s eyes) you can also explore different forms of poetry — different rhythms — throughout the book. Of course, because each poem is just one of many, the devices you employ as a writer in each particular poem are also dictated by the surrounding poems. Something that might be effective in a stand-alone poem may have already been used within the verse novel. So you have to  evaluate if it will still be effective if you do the same thing again — or if there’s another, better way of presenting it.

AS: Can you recommend other verse novels for primary school aged kids?

KA: This is one of the easiest questions I’ve ever had to answer! Australia has produced lots of beautiful verse novelists — and verse novels. It’s wonderful that publishers are producing them, and kids are reading them! The following verse novels are great reads for Primary students — although older readers (and adults) will also enjoy them. (That’s perhaps the best thing about verse novels. They’re so versatile!)

  • Sixth Grade Style Queen NOT! by Sheryl Clark
  • Ratswhiskers and Me, and Starjumps by Lorraine Marwood
  • Pearl Verses the World, and Toppling, and Roses are Blue by Sally Murphy
  • The Spangled Drongo, and Pookie Aleerah Is Not My Boyfriend by Stephen Herrick

AS: Where can we find your poems?

KA: Most of my poems have been published in magazines — so they’re not available online. But it’s something I’ve been meaning to fix, so in honour of this post, today I’m launching a page with poems for kids on my blog. You’ll find it at . Skip across to check it out sometime.

AS: Is there anything else we should know about Kathryn Apel?
KA: Every January I co-ordinate Month of Poetry, a family-friendly event that Alphabet Soup readers can participate in. The challenge is to write a poem a day for the month of January — but even if you only write a couple of poems, that’s still better writing none. 🙂 You can read more about the challenge on the Month of Poetry site — but be sure to get your parents permission and help to sign up.
Interview with Kathryn Apel © October 2014 Kathryn Apel & Rebecca Newman
Book reviews by Joseph, Book reviews by kids

Book review: Bully on the Bus

Bully on the Bus by Kathryn Apel, ISBN 9780702253287, UQP

bully on the bus


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

This book is a cross between a kids’ novel and a poem book. (This means it’s a verse novel.) This is the first verse novel that I’ve ever read.

It’s about a young boy called Leroy who is getting bullied on the bus by a high school student called DJ. Leroy is getting scared of DJ and doesn’t want to go to school on the bus any more because of DJ. Leroy is left shattered after he makes a special green monster cupcake for his teacher and DJ finds it in his lunch box, starts eating it, and smashes it on the floor of the bus. He needs to do something about DJ. But what?

I liked how each chapter was a poem and had its own title. I forgot it was a verse novel halfway through and I was very worried for Leroy and couldn’t stop reading. I will definitely read it again.

After reading Bully on the Bus I would like to read more verse novels and maybe try writing one too. I would recommend this book to kids in years 1 to 4 and their teachers — especially the kids because it teaches them about bullying.

I give this book 8 1/2 out of 10.

Joseph is one of our regular book reviewers. His most recent review (if you don’t count this one) was of The Big Book of Old Tom. If YOU would like to send us a book review, check out our submission guidelines. Happy reading!

authors, poetry, Soup Blog Poetry Festival

Visiting poet – Steven Herrick

Steven HerrickDo-wrong Ron
Happy Friday!
To make your Friday even happier, today we have Steven Herrick stopping by to talk about writing poetry and verse-novels for children. (He writes for young adults and adults, too.) If you visit his website, you’ll see that he loves soccer and in summer he plays on a soccer team called ‘The Marshmallows’ …  It doesn’t look too summery in the photo he sent us above!
Here he is — performing his poem ‘Lost in the Mist’  (from his book Untangling Spaghetti).
When did you first start writing poetry? 
I wrote my first poem when I was 18. It was called ‘Love is like a gobstopper’. I sent it to magazine and they published it and sent me $5!!!
What sort of poetry do you like writing best of all? 
I like writing narrative poems for children and verse-novels for YA and children.
What sort of poetry do you like reading? 
All types of poetry.
Where can we find your poetry?
In the following poetry books for children:

… and seven verse novels for young adults.

Do you prefer to write with a pen and paper or straight onto the computer? 
I used to write with pen and paper, but now it’s nearly always with a computer.
Your number one tip for budding poets? 
Read lots of poetry. Find what you like and try to understand why you enjoy it.
Steven’s Poetry Prescription

IF YOU’RE HAVING A FOOD DAY — lots of my poems are about food and family (see my book Untangling Spaghetti).

Pookie Aleera is not my boyfriendUntangling Spaghetti
Interview with Steven Herrick © 2013 Steven Herrick & Rebecca Newman