by Tonya Duncan Ellis

Game. Set. Match.

Sophie Washington is trying out for the tennis team, and she’s excited to get a chance to play with her good friends Chloe and Mariama. That is until wacky Coach Quackenbush matches her with school misfit, Mackenzie “Big Mac” Clark, and things quickly go downhill. Sophie has nothing in common with her partner, who does odd things like run off the court in the middle of practice, and she’s disappointed when Mackenzie shows no interest in the secret handshake she made up. After getting called out by the coach, being hit on the head with a tennis ball, and jokingly called the “most valuable player,” by mean older girls on the team, when she’s clearly not, Sophie’s ready to throw in the towel. Trying to fit in with the mean girls by making fun of Mackenzie behind her back makes things worse. Mackenzie starts skipping practice, and then gets sick at school, and Sophie realizes that there’s more to her doubles partner than meets the eye. What started out as a total mismatch could be the best partnership of all.

I’m trying out for the tennis team with my friends, and I feel like I’m on my way to get a flu shot. This is my first time playing on an actual sports team, and I’m as jittery as a bucking bronco before the rodeo.

“You need to move faster, Sophie,” says my best friend Chloe, “or we’ll be late.”

“Yeah, come on,” says my other bestie, Mariama. “You’re moving like your feet are glued to the ground.”

The three of us walk to Xavier’s athletic complex and turn left by the baseball fields. Our private school built the sports center that includes a track, tennis courts, and baseball and soccer fields two years ago, and everything in it is state-of-the-art.

As we push through the metal gate onto the tennis courts, I see the other girls who are trying out. My stomach feels tight, and my hands are so sweaty I almost drop my tennis racket.

Lindsey, Jacqueline and Kennedy, all eighth graders, talk like they’ve known each other since their Dora the Explorer days.

“This YouTube video is hilarious!” Kennedy says with a giggle as she shows the two other girls her cell phone.

“Let me see.” Lindsey pushes her long blonde bangs out of her eyes to get a better view.

~Follow the rest of the tour

Yet another marvelous Sophie Washington story! I love how every book expands on Sophie’s life at school and at home. She’s already participated in a spelling bee and joined the cheerleading squad. Having her expand to Tennis was so great to watch. She’s a fantastic role model for kids everywhere that they don’t have to be just one thing and that it’s all right to get help and even not to be the best all the time. It’s doing and trying that count, not necessarily excelling.

One of my favorite things about this book was the older girls and how Sophie dealt with them. Like many kids do, Sophie gets caught up in wanting to be liked by people she deems as worthy. She slips up and is mean, but she realizes her mistake. By the end, she’s not afraid to do what she believes is right. The more I read about this girl, the more I just like who she is.

This book also introduced Diabetes in a way that kids could learn both by hearing information and seeing the disease in action. As always, Ellis presented information in an interesting and educational way without preaching. I am always blown away at how appropriate these books seem for the target audience. They are the kind of reads I would have gobbled up at that age and that I just think are wonderful as an adult. I look forward to more installments and adventures.

Tonya Duncan Ellis is the author of the Amazon bestselling, Readers\’ Favorite \”Five Star\” rated, Sophie Washington children\’s books series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12, and is a member of the Society of Children\’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence, worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer, and is a graduate of Centre College of Kentucky and Washington University in St. Louis.

The Sophie Washington book series recounts the adventures of a precocious African American preteen from Houston, TX 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, Code One and Mismatch.

Tonya loves to travel and has visited 49 American states and three continents, but some of her best journeys have been between the pages of a novel. As a girl she could always be found with a book in her hand, and reading is still one of her favorite hobbies. When she\’s not reading or writing, the author likes to ride her bike, swim, and spend 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 or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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