by Tonya Duncan Ellis
GENRE: Children's (Middle Grade)
Oh, the tangled web we weave…
Sixth grader Sophie Washington thought she had life figured out when she was younger, but this school year, everything has changed. She feels like an outsider, because she’s the only one in her class without a cell phone, and her crush, new kid Toby Johnson, has been calling her best friend, Chloe. To fit in, Sophie changes who she is. Her plan to become popular works for a while, and she and Toby start to become friends.
In between the boy drama, Sophie takes a whirlwind class field trip to Austin, TX, where she visits the state museum, eats Tex-Mex food, and rides a kayak. Back at home, Sophie fights off buzzards from her family’s roof, dissects frogs in science class, and has fun at her little brother Cole’s basketball tournament.
Things get more complicated when Sophie “borrows” a cell phone from a neighbor and gets caught. If her parents make her tell the truth, what will her friends think? Turns out Toby has also been hiding something, and Sophie discovers the best way to make true friends is to be yourself.
No one knows how I feel about Toby. Not even Chloe. If anyone found out, I’d never come out of my room.
“Sophie, time for breakfast!” Mom calls.
I grab my backpack and rush out my bedroom door.
Bam! Me and my eight-year-old brother, Cole, collide.
“Move back, Creep!” he yells.
“Look where you’re going, Blockhead,” I counter.
“I was watching where I was going,” he frowns. “You were just running through the house again
like Mom and Dad told you not to.”
I love my little brother, but he can be such a pain sometimes.
“Can you two please be nice to each other?” pleads Mom as we enter the kitchen, still grumbling.
“Cereal’s for breakfast. I’m helping in Daddy’s office this morning, so we need to leave early.”
Mom slides in her earrings and scrolls through her cell phone while we pour cornflakes into our bowls.
Our father is a dentist and has his own dental practice. Two or three days a week, Mom goes in to help him with accounting and checking in patients in his office in downtown Houston. Since we attend Xavier Academy, a private school that doesn’t have a school bus, she drives us to school every morning.
Mom’s been working with our father most days recently because the city had heavy rains earlier this spring. A couple of weeks ago, his office flooded. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, like Noah’s ark. Dad had to see patients in a building across the street while repairs were being made. A lot of his medical equipment was ruined. Dad left his cell phone there and it got water damage, and still needs to be replaced. I don’t know how he can stand being without it. He’s been using an old flip phone until he has time to buy a new one.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tonya Duncan Ellis was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She loves reading so much that as a child she took books with her everywhere. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper when she was a teen. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer. She's an award-winning author of the Sophie Washington children's book series, geared towards readers ages 8 to 12. The books recount adventures of Houston, TX preteen Sophie Washington and her diverse group of friends. Each funny and heartwarming story teaches lessons about friendship, responsibility, truthfulness and perseverance. Books in the series include Queen of the Bee, The Snitch, Things You Didn't Know About Sophie, and The Gamer. When she's not writing, Tonya enjoys reading, biking, swimming, travel and spending time with her husband and three children. She lives in Houston, TX.
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4.25 out of 5 stars
Sophie Washington: Things You Didn’t Know About Sophie by Tonya Duncan Ellis is a cute kids’ book that explores peer pressure, infatuation, and lying. I like watching the buildup of events that are interspersed with details about Houston and Sophie’s family. I’m a bit disappointed in Sophie’s behavior, although this beautifully depicts how things can snowball from one tiny lie into an avalanche of them. I thought the story ended a little abruptly and I was surprised that Chloe wasn’t invited to the party, although I guess that would have made it difficult for another relationship to blossom a bit. The illustrations help bring the story to life and I was delighted to watch Sophie grow a little bit more as she becomes another year older and wiser. There is no problem reading this as a stand-alone story but it’s more fun to read from book 1!
A copy of this title was provided to me for review