Sophie Washington

Secret Santa

Children - Grade 4th-6th
123 Pages
Reviewed on 09/19/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis is another story in a delightful series that is aimed at young readers. It is about the life and adventures of Sophie Washington and her eight-year-old brother Cole. Her school's Christmas Holiday is just three weeks away and sixth grader Sophie is burdened by her mounting school assignments. With boisterous Cole singing a Christmas song, she tries to collect her thoughts when the door bell rings. It is the mailman and he is delivering a present to Sophie; the sender is a secret Santa Claus!

Tonya Duncan Ellis's Sophie Washington: Secret Santa is a book designed for readers in the fifth and sixth grades but it can be entertaining for the general reader as well. The story is set with young Sophie receiving a present but the identity of the sender is a big unknown. She tries to solve the puzzle but it is quite difficult because there is no secret Santa gift exchange arranged by her school for the holiday season. And as she and her school friends eliminate the possible identity of the secret but persistent Santa, they drift far away from solving the puzzle. Author Tonya Duncan Ellis knows her readers quite well and her creative writing style makes for a perfect fit. And when finally the identity of the secret Santa is revealed, the story conveys the real meaning of Christmas, which is giving, forgiving, and spreading Christmas cheer to the most unlikely person in the world.

Jack Magnus

Sophie Washington: Secret Santa is a coming of age novel for children, grades 4-6, written by Tonya Duncan Ellis. Sophie and her little brother, Cole, were getting increasingly excited at the prospect of the upcoming winter break. It was only three weeks away, and Cole was already getting laid-back and relaxed, while Sophie seemed busier than even studying for exams and finishing her essays and class projects. Sometimes, life just didn’t seem fair. Cole always got away with stuff while Sophie felt like she was held to a higher standard, being older. So when the mail carrier dropped off a package on the front porch, she wasn’t really all that surprised when her mom asked her to get it. Opening the door, however, led to a nice surprise. The box was addressed to her! This was surprising as Christmas was still weeks away. There was a typed note inside from her Secret Santa, and the box was filled with Sophie’s favorite candies. The next day at school, she kept looking around and wondering who it could be. Then she saw another box waiting for her when she got home. Another gift from her Secret Santa! She was thrilled of course with the gingerbread kit she found inside, but her curiosity kept getting stronger and stronger. Who was the Secret Santa?

Tonya Duncan Ellis’s coming of age novel for children, grades 4-6, Sophie Washington: Secret Santa, is a marvelous holiday-related tale that finds Sophie, her friends and little brother, Cole, feverishly trying to figure out the identity of Sophie’s Secret Santa. Ellis’s tale also addresses the problem of bullying and the pain it causes those kids who are the targets of bullies. The normally happy-go-lucky Cole has become a victim, and Sophie steps into her role as protective big sister beautifully. Ellis makes clear the importance of getting a parent, teacher or older sibling involved, and she also shares insights into what motivates kids into becoming bullies. I loved seeing how Sophie and Cole are able to get Rhythm Brown and his little brother involved in a basketball game and manage to resolve their differences through playing together. The mystery of the Secret Santa is a marvelous one that also helps Sophie grow and become more empathetic and compassionate. Sophie Washington: Secret Santa is most highly recommended.

Edith Wairimu

In Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis, the winter break is around the corner and Sophie Washington has a lot of schoolwork to do. The holidays are also almost here and she cannot wait for the Christmas celebrations. When a box containing candy arrives at her house, Sophie is surprised that it is addressed to her. This starts a guessing game and her friends Mariama, Chloe and Valentina join in. Could it be Toby, a guy who seems to like her, or probably her good friend Nathan who is sending the presents? Cole, Sophie’s younger brother, is curious too but has problems of his own. When Sophie catches him wearing their mother’s make-up, she forces him into confessing. This seems to be no ordinary Christmas with everything going on. Will Sophie be able to find out who the secret Santa is and also help her brother?

Tonya Duncan Ellis’s book, Sophie Washington: Secret Santa, is a wonderful read that discusses the topic of bullying in a way that every child can relate to and learn from. Sophie, like many other children, is bullied and so is her brother. The book opens up discussions between children and parents on the topic and equips children with important skills on how to handle bullies. It will also help children to understand what makes bullies act the way they do. Most importantly, parents could also use the book to reflect on how their actions affect their children and the way they relate with others. Guardians will also read about the effect that neglect has on a child. Sophie Washington: Secret Santa is not only well-written, but contains vital lessons for every child and their parents.

Alan Mcbrearty

Stop bullying with kindness
Secret Santa is the first book I read in the Sophie Washington series. I liked it very much. It is well written, with a nice flowing story and well placed humorous tidbits. Kids will easily relate to the cute, likable characters. It is very nice how the writer introduces Sophie’s multicultural classmates to the reader and how they all have they own unique characteristics, just like in real life. In this book, I met Sophie and her family and learned about their family values all while she is searching for her mysterious Secret Santa. The book moves along well right through to a good unexpected ending. One of the most important takeaways from this book is how kids can handle bullying, and that through a little patience, understanding, and kindness they can solve many problems. This book is a great read for elementary school children.