Sophie Washington

Hurricane

Children - Grade 4th-6th
108 Pages
Reviewed on 02/03/2018
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer) for Readers' Favorite

Sophie Washington: Hurricane by Tonya Duncan Ellis is a stunning book about a young girl named Sophie. Sophie is a normal 11-year-old, but when a hurricane hits Texas, her life is changed. Her family, unsure of how safe their house would be if their area were to experience bad flooding, decided to evacuate to Sophie's dad's dental office in hopes of finding higher ground there. However, they weren't the only ones to think that way. Valentina, a girl from Sophie's school whom she doesn't like, and her family ask to stay there as well, and Sophie's parents agree. Meanwhile, the storm is getting worse, and so is the flooding. Will Sophie's house remain dry? Will Sophie manage to tolerate the following days with Valentina?

I really, really enjoyed reading Sophie Washington: Hurricane by Tonya Duncan Ellis. The book is very well written and descriptive. The characters are very likable, realistic and relatable, and readers will love that they can see themselves in them. The story is very exciting, and will keep the reader captivated. The book accurately describes the fear of going through a hurricane. I was hooked by the first page and I never wanted to put the book down. I even learned some Spanish words from this story! The occasional pictures are very well drawn and help to show the chain of events. I can't wait to read other books in the series. This book is fast-paced and a real page turner. The story has many thrilling scenes that made me gasp out loud. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.

Jack Magnus

Sophie Washington: Hurricane is a contemporary fiction novel for children and preteens written by Tonya Duncan Ellis. Sophie and her little brother, Cole, were terrified by the massive lightning bolt and booming thunder that suddenly shook their house. It seemed as though the lightning had actually hit something in their backyard. Bertram, their dog, joined the kids in their response as he howled in dismay at the weather. Sophie’s mom was even less impressed when the power went out shortly after that lightning strike. There had been a lot of rain in their part of Houston lately, and it just seemed to be continually coming down in great sheets.

When their dad got home from his dental practice, he immediately turned on the television to see what was happening with the weather. The report that a Category 2 hurricane was on its way to Corpus Christi alarmed everyone, especially since Granny Washington lived there. When the weather forecasters upgraded the storm to Category 4 later on that evening and issued emergency evacuations, Sophie’s dad decided that he would drive to Corpus Christi and bring his mom home with him. He had not been able to reach her by phone and was getting more and more worried. Sophie’s mom wasn’t happy about him leaving with the weather being so awful, but he was determined to go get his mom. Everyone waited tensely for his return.

Tonya Duncan Ellis’s contemporary fiction novel for children and preteens, Sophie Washington: Hurricane, is the fifth book in Ellis’s series, and while it can be read on its own, I’d recommend starting with the first book to get the full impact of this marvelous continuing story. Hurricane gives kids a feeling of the impact a storm or other natural disaster has on people’s lives, especially those who, like Valentina, her little brother and grandmother, end up losing everything in the flood. I especially enjoyed seeing Sophie’s change in attitude toward Valentina, who seems such an intimidating super star in school but is just another kid with her own issues and problems. Their burgeoning friendship as a result of the storm shows that good things can actually come from bad.

In Valentina’s story, Ellis also draws attention to the plight of immigrant families, who like Valentina and her family, are broken up by the enforcement of immigration laws. Sophie’s realization that Valentina doesn’t have her mom and dad makes her appreciate her own family even more and gives her a greater sense of empathy for her new friend. Each of these issues - the increasingly intensive storms and natural disasters and the breaking up of families with immigration problems - are things kids need to know about, and Ellis does a marvelous job of doing just that in this well-written book. Sophie Washington: Hurricane is most highly recommended.

Bruce Arrington

Sophie Washington: Hurricane by Tonya Duncan Ellis is an adventure story for grades 4-6. Sophie lives in Texas with her family, and attends a private school. We learn about her friends and another who is not on her BF list. On the contrary, whatever she does ticks Sophie off to the nth degree. A powerful hurricane rolls into the area, uprooting many people in her neighborhood, including students from her school. As the storm progresses, the family must move to different areas to stay safe.

We see the interactions and watch as the emotional reactions take their toll on those going through a natural disaster such as this. This story works well as a preparatory tool for children experiencing, or about to experience, a hurricane. It explains the limited choices that adults often have to make in a very short time period. I could see how it can help young ones understand how life can turn on a dime, and how sometimes quick decisions must be made in order to ensure the survival of everyone.

Sophie Washington: Hurricane by Tonya Duncan Ellis also brings in the twist of helping those whom we would normally deem as enemies. In this case, the one girl Sophie disliked the most out of all her classmates, suddenly shows up with her family, in dire need of help. Sophie soon chooses the compassionate route, causing the relationship to turn into a BFF. This is important for kids to understand— things or people are not always what they seem on the outside. Highly recommended story.