Sophie Washington: The Snitch
by Tonya Duncan Ellis
GENRE: Children's (Middle Grade)
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There’s nothing worse than being a tattletale…
That’s what 10-year-old Sophie Washington thinks until she runs into Lanie Mitchell, a new girl at school. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers, and even takes their lunch money. If they tell, they are scared the other kids in their class will call them snitches, and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that.
Excitement at home keeps Sophie’s mind off the trouble with Lanie. She takes a fishing trip to the Gulf of Mexico with her parents and little brother, Cole, and discovers a mysterious creature in the attic above her room. For a while, Sophie is able to keep her parents from knowing what is going on at school. But Lanie’s bullying goes too far, and a classmate gets seriously hurt. Sophie needs to make a decision. Should she stand up to the bully, or become a snitch?
“Nice glasses,” smiles Mariama, one of my other good friends in our class. Mariama’s family moved to our neighborhood from Nigeria last year. Some people make fun of her because she dresses different sometimes and talks with an African accent, but she’s really nice.
“Thanks, this is my first time wearing them,” I say. “I was a little nervous this morning.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be because they look really good,” she assures me. A few of our other classmates come through the hall, and no one seems to pay too much attention to me wearing glasses. Seems like it’s not a big deal after all.
“Hey Soph,” calls Chloe, rushing over to join us at the lockers, “those are some cute specs. I may get some with red frames to match my uniform logo.”
“You’re supposed to wear glasses to see, Chloe,” Mariama and I laugh.
“Well, they can be used for fashion, too,” she informs us.
We compare notes on last night’s science homework and grumble about the many review packets Mr. Simpson assigns.
“He must really want us to become astronauts,” Chloe complains.
“Yeah, it took me over an hour to get mine done,” I say.
Suddenly, I hear Mariama whistle under her breath.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
I see Lanie moving in our direction.
You mean she bothers Mariama, too? I think to myself.
“Hey, Miss Tarzan,” Lanie says, turning toward our friend. “I see you’re wearing that necklace from Africa that you promised me,” she says, pointing at the string of colorful wooden beads my friend is wearing.
Mariama, who is at least a foot shorter than Lanie and probably 15 pounds lighter, starts to shake.
“My mother gave me this necklace,” she says, “and it was a gift from her mother to her.”
“Well, it’s going to be my gift now,” Lanie snarls, reaching out to grab it.
“Why don’t you give it a rest?” says Chloe, moving to block her.
“And who’s going to make me?” Lanie smirks.
I feel my face getting hot under my new glasses. I am so tired of Lanie bothering everybody and spoiling all our fun. If I wasn’t so scared of people calling me a snitch, I would march right down to the principal’s office and tell on this bully.
“Leave her alone, Lanie,” I say through gritted teeth.
“And who’s going to stop me?” she asks.
Lanie laughs and shoves me against the locker.
“You couldn’t stop a flea.”
“Come on, Sophie, let’s just go,” Chloe urges.
But I’ve had enough.
I shove the bully back.
“I said, leave her alone.”
Lanie looks surprised for a second.
“Fine, if she won’t give me her necklace, then I’ll take yours.”
She yanks my precious silver friendship chain from my neck and knocks me to the floor so quickly that my new glasses fall off.
“Sophie!” Chloe and Mariama rush over to help me as the bully hurries off down the hall.
“I hate her!” I reach on the floor for my new glasses and see that the glass is cracked in one of the lenses.
What am I going to do now?
Q & A with Tonya Duncan Ellis
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I wasn’t writing full time and had another job to do when I wrote Sophie Washington: The Snitch, so I’d have to work on it early in the morning, late in the evenings and on weekends to complete it.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved immersing myself in the world of my characters. They are a fun, funny group of kids who do cool things like go fishing on the Gulf of Mexico and learn about astronauts in Space Center Houston.
What inspires you?
Observing the world around me. There are so many interesting things, people and places to learn about. I’m a freelance feature writer for a family magazine and I interview people from all walks of life, from fashion designers, to professional sports team mascots, to a retired teacher-turned race car driver, so I get exposed to a lot of food for thought. I also travel quite a bit, which keeps my creative juices flowing.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m releasing the fifth book in my series, Sophie Washington: Hurricane, in March and in this book Sophie and her friends are evacuated from their homes when a natural disaster hits Houston. I’ve also started writing my sixth book, which will have Sophie taking a mission trip to Costa Rica.
Do you ever get writer’s block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I really don’t get writer’s block. There are times when I feel anxious about being able to come up with something, but once I get in front of the computer and get writing the ideas flow. If anything, I think of too many things that would be great stories and try to jot down thoughts when I get them so I don’t forget. The best way to get through writer’s block is to “Just Do It.” Sit down in the chair and write.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tonya Ellis remembers hiding in the restroom from a few bullies during her elementary school days. She encourages kids to speak out if they are being mistreated. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist, written for newspapers and magazines and won awards for her books. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys reading, biking with her husband and two sons and daughter, and travelling to interesting places. SOPHIE WASHINGTON: The Snitch is the second book in a series about Sophie and her friends.