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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee is a novel for children, grades 4-6, written by Tonya Duncan Ellis. Sophie was definitely not interested in participating in Xavier Academy’s spelling bee. The ten-year-old hadn’t intended that her parents know about it, as she realized they’d want her to participate, but her little brother, Cole, couldn’t resist telling them. She and Cole loved each other, but, as siblings are often wont to do, they seemed to thrive on picking on each other, which would drive their parents crazy. Sophie often thought that Cole had it easier, didn’t have to wait as long as she did when she was his age. She felt that way when he got to participate in the Mutton Bustin’ at the rodeo, something she had always wanted to do but was now too old. And now she was going to have to spend the next month cramming lists of words because of him.
Tonya Duncan Ellis’s novel for children, grades 4-6, Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee, is a well-written and entertaining story about a young girl who lives in a Houston suburb with her family. The spelling bee challenge teaches her about the possibilities that can happen when you work hard enough for something, and, along the way, she learns not to be intimidated by Nathan, the boy who seems to know everything. I laughed when the budding Cole the Magnificent got a rock stuck in his ear and marveled that finding wild boars on your front lawn or alligators in creeks in certain parts of Texas is not all that unusual an occurrence. Ellis’s presentation of the actual spelling bee nicely builds up the suspense as Sophie and the other participants compete for the title. Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee is a grand look at the preteen years, and Sophie Washington is a marvelous main character. This book is most highly recommended.