Sophie learns about gratitude and empathy while she and her family face the real-life dangers of a Texan hurricane in this fifth episode of Ellis’ (Sophie Washington: The Gamer, 2018, etc.) children’s series.
An evening that includes heavy rain and a power outage ends with Mr. Washington driving to pick up his mother from her house, which is located in a mandatory-evacuation area. They both get home safely, but then the storm, a Category 2 hurricane, starts moving closer to the immediate area. When nearby levees threaten to break, the whole family is forced to flee their home. The children’s expression of joy over school being canceled is followed by their fear of losing their dog and of driving to safety through rising floodwaters. As they take refuge in Mr. Washington’s dental office, another stranded family rings the doorbell for help. At the door stands Valentina Martinez, a girl from school whom Sophie deeply dislikes. As the two families hunker down to wait out the storm together, Sophie must confront her own preconceptions. Ellis presents Sophie as a very realistic sixth-grader, complete with shortcomings and flaws, which is refreshingly honest. That said, sometimes her bickering with little brother, Cole, gets a bit excessive. Perhaps most true-to-life are Sophie’s struggles with insecurity, jealousy, and a lack of empathy for Valentina, who’s captain of the cheerleading squad: “But I know that Valentina is as fake as monopoly money, and I’m going to make sure that everyone finds out,” Sophie thinks early on. Sophie becomes more likable as she gets to know Valentina better and gains compassion and understanding. Meanwhile, the hurricane plotline keeps the story moving to the end, offering a child’s point of view on a devastating event.
An uplifting disaster story that touches on kids’ real concerns.