Realistic Fiction Review of Sophie Washington: Hurricane by Tonya Ellis
Sophie Washington: Hurricane by Tonya Ellis Format: eBook Publisher: Amazon Publishing Number of Pages: 100 Date Published: January 13th, 2018
Source: In exchange for an honest review, an ebook was provided by the author for free.
Sophie Washington lives in Houston, Texas with her younger brother, Cole, her dog Bertram, and parents. Sophie's father is a dentist and the children attend Xavier Academy, a local private school. The story starts off slowly with a bit of lightning, rain, and thunder. Then the family learns that a Category 4 hurricane is headed toward Corpus Cristi, where Sophie's grandmother lives, and they become concerned for her safety. When they are unable to reach her by phone, Sophie's father sets out to make sure that she is alright. Upon Sophie's father's return, the weather conditions and reports of flooding in the Houston area have also worsened, so everyone heads to the safety of her father's office. Unfortunately, Bertram gets separated in the process and despite an initial search for him, the family must leave him behind. Once at the dentist's office, Sophie and her family get an unexpected visitor, Valentina, a girl from Sophie's school, her younger brother and abuela who's home and car were flooded leaving them nowhere else to turn. As the two families weather out the storm at Sophie's father's office they develop a closer bond.
Sophie Washington: Hurricane is an early chapter book aimed at children eight to eleven years old. This is the fifth book in the series and the only one that I've read so far. Other books in the Sophie Washington series include Sophie Washington: The Gamer, The Snitch, and Queen of the Bee. While each book seems to be able to be read on its own, I'd probably recommend starting with an earlier book. At the beginning of the story, Ellis introduces Sophie's friends who attend the private school with her, and Valentina, the girl who perhaps Sophie is a bit jealous of because her friends seem to "follow her around like zombies." Initially, Sophie isn't a very likable character, internally she fumes that Valentina is being "fake" and "a phony," and can't understand why her friends don't see it. She's surly and moans about her younger brother, her friends who're suddenly interested in cheerleading and the healthy food choices her parents force on her as snacks. However, Sophie's attitude softens considerably when Valentina and her family show up at her father's office after losing everything in the flood. Sophie then realizes that she misjudged Valentina, that she knows nothing about her home environment or money situation. When Sophie also learns from Valentina's grandmother that her parents were deported by immigration and it's been two years since she's seen them, she not only see's Valentina in a new light but develops a plan to help Sophie recover some of the things she's lost in the flood.
Hurricane briefly touches on the complications that follow a natural disaster, the fear, and struggles for children of immigrant families who face deportation and how it's important to not judge a person because you never know what is going on in their life. The story is just the right length for an early chapter book, with language that matches the target audience. Sophie and Valentina's families were portrayed as caring and very involved in their lives. I also thought the sibling's relationships were realistic, they had their moments of bickering in the car demanding each other to "scoot over," but in the end, they still care for one another. Included in the story are full-page black and white illustrations similar in design to the cover. While the illustrations do portray the characters and events of the story, even matching some of the tension of the impending storm, I would've enjoyed them more if they were in color like the cover. Overall, this was an enjoyable story with positive messaging and a realistic portrayal of what can happen following a hurricane.