Tonya Duncan Ellis
Tonya Duncan Ellis
GENRE: Children's Middle Grade
Sophie Washington is trying out for the tennis team, and she’s excited to get a chance to play with her good friends Chloe and Mariama. That is until wacky Coach Quackenbush matches her with school misfit, Mackenzie “Big Mac” Clark, and things quickly go downhill. Sophie has nothing in common with her partner, who does odd things like run off the court in the middle of practice, and she’s disappointed when Mackenzie shows no interest in the secret handshake she made up. After getting called out by the coach, being hit on the head with a tennis ball, and jokingly called the “most valuable player,” by mean older girls on the team, when she’s clearly not, Sophie’s ready to throw in the towel. Trying to fit in with the mean girls by making fun of Mackenzie behind her back makes things worse. Mackenzie starts skipping practice, and then gets sick at school, and Sophie realizes that there’s more to her doubles partner than meets the eye. What started out as a total mismatch could be the best partnership of all.
To get us ready for our upcoming match against our rival school, St. Regis, Coach Quackenbush has us play practice matches. Valentina’s grandma has to work late and is picking her up at four-thirty this afternoon, and Toby and Nathan’s track practice was cancelled because their coach is out of town, so they come to watch us.
“Do good for me guys!” says Valentina from the nearby mini bleachers. “Let’s go! Vamanos!”
“All right, we’ve gone over the rules of tennis earlier today, so you know how to keep score,” says Coach Quackenbush. He’s wearing a whistle around his neck and carries his usual clipboard. “I want you to play each other, and the team that wins two out of three games will be declared the winner. Since we only have three singles players, I’ll work with Kennedy while Lindsey and Jackie go against each other. All right. Let’s see how we do, team!”
“All right!” we all parrot.
“Good luck in your matches, guys,” Chloe says to the eighth-grade girls.
“We don’t need luck unlike you little sixth graders,” says Kennedy. “We have talent.”
She and the older girls flounce off to their courts.
“Whatever,” says Chloe with a roll of her eyes.
“They think they are ‘all that’ just because they were on the team last year,” says Mariama. “I’d love to beat them in a game.”
“Forget them,” I say and pick up a can of new tennis balls Coach Quackenbush left on the court for us. “Come on, let’s get going.”
“Okay, let’s get started,” says Chloe. Her frilly red tennis skirt swings around her hips as she smacks the ball to us for the first serve. It bounces high in the air toward me.
“I got it!” I race forward.
“Mine!” Mackenzie comes over to my side of the court from the other direction. Surprised at her quick movement, I stumble.
We run into each other. The ball bounces off my head, and I stagger to keep from falling.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tonya Duncan Ellis is the author of the Amazon bestselling, Readers' Favorite "Five Star" rated, Sophie Washington children's books series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12, and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence, worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer, and is a graduate of Centre College of Kentucky and Washington University in St. Louis.
The Sophie Washington book series recounts the adventures of a precocious African American preteen from Houston, TX 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, The Gamer, Hurricane, Mission: Costa Rica,
Secret Santa, Code One and Mismatch.
Tonya loves to travel and has visited 49 American states and three continents, but some of her best journeys have been between the pages of a novel. As a girl she could always be found with a book in her hand, and reading is still one of her favorite hobbies. When she's not reading or writing, the author likes to ride her bike, swim, and spend time with her husband and three children. She lives in Missouri City, TX.
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4 out of 5 stars
Sophie Washington: Mismatch by Tonya Duncan Ellis follows the young heroine as she joins the tennis team and learns how to partner with a girl who is not part of her immediate circle. Not only does Sophie have to learn the rules of a new-to-her sport, but she also has to learn to be a good team player.
This story is another fun addition to the collection of tales in the ‘Sophie Washington’ series. I love the way the stories are entertaining and keep the reader’s attention but also teach multiple lessons. This particular tale showcases ways that bullying can take place, touches on the challenges of having two working parents in the household, and explores team sports and some of the elements of good sportsmanship that need to be learned while also learning the rules of the game itself.
One of the reasons I enjoy this series so much is that there are many teachable moments in each book, and the overall theme of “be kind to each other” is deftly portrayed in an engaging manner. The diversity of Sophie and her group of friends provide additional depth as other cultures are briefly touched upon and it is also terrific to see the way Sophie’s parents are involved with and invested in their children’s lives. I look forward to reading about more of Sophie’s adventures.
A copy of this title was provided for review