by Tonya Duncan Ellis

Forty days without video games? Oh no!

Sixth-grader Sophie Washington and her friends are back with an interesting book about having fun with video games while keeping balance. It’s almost Easter, and Sophie and her family get ready to start fasts for Lent with their church, where they give up doing something for 40 days that may not be good for them. Her parents urge Sophie to stop tattling so much, and encourage her second-grade brother Cole to give up something he loves most, playing video games. The kids agree to the challenge, but how long can they keep it up? Soon after Lent begins, Cole starts sneaking to play his video games. Things start to get out of control when he loses a school electronic tablet he checked out without his parents’ permission, and comes to his sister for help. Should Sophie break her promise and tattle on him?

Now that I am getting older and am in the sixth grade, I can understand more of what our pastor is saying in the sermons. Today, he was talking about how hard it can be to stay away from things we like that may be bad for us.

“Temptation is a daily struggle for all,” he preached.

“The struggle for me is staying awake for two hours,” complains Cole. “I wish I could have been with my friends in children’s church.”

Cole prefers going to the special service for kids, and was mad that Mom and Dad made us join them in the main church this morning.

“It’s getting closer to Easter, and I want you to get a better understanding of what the holiday is all about,” Dad explains. “In children’s church, all you pay attention to is the snacks.”

“Those donuts they bring in are good!” Cole exclaims.

“Maybe we can stop by the donut shop on the way home.” Mom squeezes his shoulder.

I roll my eyes. Since Cole is the youngest, he’s my mother’s pet.

“Have you kids given any thought as to what you want to give up for Lent?” Dad asks.

“What’s Lent?” questions Cole.

“Lent represents the 40 days Jesus was in the desert and the devil tried to tempt him, or get him to do things he shouldn’t do,” Mom explains. “During the 40 days before Easter, we celebrate Lent by giving up something we like to eat or do that keeps us from thinking of more meaningful things, just like Jesus did.”



Tonya Ellis does it again with another adorable Sophie Washington story full of fun and heart and subtle lessons. Whether or not you observe Lent, we all know the difficulty of trying to give something up. Sophie and her brother acted exactly as I’d expect kids to act when faced with forty days without something they like. I’m continuously impressed with how effortlessly Ellis captures the mind of a kid.

This book felt more packed with lessons than the other Sophie Washington books I’ve read. Despite this, I at no point felt preached to. The lessons are delivered in a realistic way with concrete examples. Not only is there lots of learning going on, but Sophie does a decent amount of growing up in this book. It was nice to see her evolve, since at the beginning of the book, Sophie observes that she’s older and understands more things. I definitely saw the truth of her statement throughout.

I really felt like I got to know Sophie’s parents a little better in this book. THE GAMER is very family-centric. In keeping with Sophie feeling more grown-up, her parents seemed to treat her like she has matured. Very good consistency. I think my favorite part was actually family game night at the end. Without spoiling, it showed an exception to one of the lessons Sophie’s brother grappled with and supported the idea of “everything in moderation.” It was such a heartwarming scene of family time, too. Another great read from Ellis. Looking forward to more Sophie Washington.



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. She\’s an 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, and The Gamer. When she\’s not writing, Tonya enjoys reading, biking, swimming, travel and spending time with her husband and three children. She lives in Houston, 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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10 thoughts on “SOPHIE WASHINGTON: THE GAMER by Tonya Duncan Ellis

  1. I enjoyed getting to know your book; congrats on the tour, I hope it is a fun one for you, and thanks for the chance to win 🙂

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