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SOPHIE WASHINGTON by Tonya Duncan Ellis


The Gamer

by Tonya Duncan Ellis illustrated by Tonya Duncan Ellis

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4575-5780-4
Publisher: Dog Ear

As Easter approaches, sixth-grader Sophie Washington and her little brother, Cole, struggle with giving up tattling and video games for Lent in this lighthearted children’s chapter-book sequel.

Ellis (Sophie Washington: Things You Didn’t Know About Sophie, 2017, etc.) delivers another positive episode in the life of Sophie Washington, a preteen living with her family in Houston. Apart from the fact that she butts heads with her little brother on a regular basis and really wants a cellphone, she has few complaints, as she belongs to a happy family and has a diverse group of good friends. However, when Sophie’s parents decide that the family must give up something for Lent, she and Cole must confront their bad habits. Over 40 days, the two children find new ways to focus their energies, spending more time with friends, family, and a stray dog that happens to find them after school one day. Even the canine helps keep Sophie and Cole accountable to their commitments in ways that they didn’t expect. At one point, when Cole slips up, Sophie faces a dilemma, as she must decide between keeping her own Lent fast or breaking it. By the end of the story, both children grow and change in authentic ways. Young readers will relate to Sophie’s frustrations when it comes to relationships with friends, feeling left out, dealing with little brothers and moral dilemmas, and just having a bad day. She’s a realistic, engaging, and aptly flawed protagonist with room to grow as a character. Other positive aspects of the story include its uplifting portrayals of family life, faith, and multicultural friendships. The simple, black-and-white line drawings in every chapter successfully direct readers’ imaginations without overpowering them. Although the focus on daily life activities may not make it an overly exciting story, Sophie’s genuine personality and relatable experiences make it enjoyable.

A satisfying read, full of real-life lessons and good-hearted characters.