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Sophie Washington: Class Retreat

A childrens/middle-grade by Tonya Duncan Ellis

cover of Sophie Washington Class Retreat by Tonya Duncan Ellis

There is no such thing as Big Foot! Or is there…

Sophie Washington and her classmates are on their way to Camp Glowing Spring for a class retreat. It’ll be two full days of swimming, eating s’mores around a campfire, tug-of-war, archery, and more! Sophie’s been looking forward to the trip all school year and can’t wait to spend extra time with her friends. It will also be great to get away from her bratty younger brother, Cole, and his constant stories about Big Foot. If Cole warns her about what to do if she sees the hairy ape man on the retreat one more time, she’ll put in ear plugs. Everybody knows Big Foot is a hoax!

Once the kids arrive at the retreat site things are as exciting as Sophie imagined. She has fun exploring nature with her besties, Chloe, Valentina, Toby, Nathan, and Mariama, and meeting new friends too. Then the kids see a giant footprint during a nature hike in the woods and the adventure really begins!


A twig snaps, and the dark shadow rises. I run like a rabbit through leafy trees. My hair is drenched; I can smell the sweat in my armpits. Down, down, down the trail I race for dear life. As the footsteps get closer, I turn. A tall, hairy man grabs my arm, and I scream.

Heart racing, I jerk up, and pull my comforter to my chest. I see my goldfish bowl on my dresser and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s the third night in a row I’ve had nightmares about Big Foot. I hope they stop soon, because this is getting old.

The dreams started after I watched a show called Finding Big Foot with my parents and little brother, Cole. I want to forget about the hairy ape man, also known as Sasquatch. But Cole’s been talking about it every chance he gets. This morning, unfortunately, is no different.

“What do you call a Sasquatch who loves working with clay?” Cole reads a joke from his library book. “A hairy potter!”

“What do you get when Bigfoot walks in your garden? “Squash!”

“It’s too early for this!” I put my hands over my ears. I should have packed my ear plugs in my bag with my swimsuit.

My father laughs as he pulls into our school entrance. With the orange and pinkish colors of the sun coming up from behind the clouds, the two-story, gray building stands out like a piece in a pop-up book. About twenty or thirty other cars are sliding into parking spaces, and I strain my eyes to find my friends.

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I feel like I say this every time I read one of these books, but this series just keeps getting better. Sophie is a joy to read about. Her friends are so much fun, and the challenges the kids face are nothing short of perfect. I always learn something from Sophie and her friends, and I’m certainly well above the target age range for this series. Also, owls can rotate their heads 270 degrees. I may have read that somewhere in middle school, but if so, I forgot, and this book reminded me. Fun facts, great characters, and real-life issues make these books worth every minute.

For Class Retreat in particular, I loved the sense of friendship and teamwork. Seeing Sophie and her friends team up with the boys to take down a common threat was wonderful. No violence, just good, old-fashioned MG fun of dealing with the issue. Not to say the issue wasn’t real. Bullying and racism are serious, and should be addressed as such. Sophie and the gang show what’s really important—not giving bullies power, and it’s done in a way for kids to understand easily without being dark or too heavy.

Long story short, I enjoyed this a lot. As always, Ellis captures the preteen voice. I felt like I was back in sixth grade, getting excited for three days without class. I hope there are many more Sophie Washington books to come. I’ll read them all.

About Tonya Duncan Ellis

Tonya Duncan Ellis author image

Tonya Duncan Ellis was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She loves reading so much that as a child she took books with her everywhere. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper when she was a teen. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer. A graduate of Centre College of Kentucky and Washington University in St. Louis, she’s an Amazon bestselling and award-winning author of the Sophie Washington children\’s book series, geared towards readers ages 8 to 12. The books recount adventures of Houston, TX preteen Sophie Washington and her diverse group of friends. Each funny and heartwarming story teaches lessons about friendship, responsibility, truthfulness and perseverance. Books in the series include Queen of the Bee, The Snitch, Things You Didn\’t Know About Sophie, The Gamer, Hurricane, Mission: Costa Rica, Secret Santa, and Code One. When she\’s not writing, Tonya enjoys reading, biking, swimming, travel, and spending time with her husband and three children. She lives in Missouri City, TX.

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Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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