by Tonya Duncan Ellis

There’s nothing worse than being a tattletale…

That’s what 10-year-old Sophie Washington thinks until she runs into Lanie Mitchell, a new girl at school. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers, and even takes their lunch money. If they tell, they are scared the other kids in their class will call them snitches, and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that.

Excitement at home keeps Sophie’s mind off the trouble with Lanie. She takes a fishing trip to the Gulf of Mexico with her parents and little brother, Cole, and discovers a mysterious creature in the attic above her room. For a while, Sophie is able to keep her parents from knowing what is going on at school. But Lanie’s bullying goes too far, and a classmate gets seriously hurt. Sophie needs to make a decision. Should she stand up to the bully, or become a snitch?

I’ve got a secret. Want to hear it?

Secrets are usually nice. Like when my dad surprised me with a new goldfish last year. Or the time Grandma Washington unexpectedly visited us in Houston from her house in Corpus Christi.

I used to love secrets. But this one’s not so great.

No one knows it, except my best friend Chloe. It’s her secret, too. We don’t talk about it, ‘cause if we do people won’t like us. And in the fifth grade being liked is as important as having a fun birthday party, or staying up as late as possible, or…Christmas.

For now, I’m not telling. Chloe’s not either.

“Hey Sophie, wait up!” Chloe yells as I make my way down the hall to our first period math class. “How was your weekend?”

“The same old, same old,” I reply, hoisting my math book and binder up in my arms. “Cole whined about having nothing to do, so Mom and Dad took us to the zoo and then out for ice cream. On Sunday I caught up on all my homework after church.”

Cole is my seven-year-old brother. My mom thinks he’s an angel, but I think he was sent here to drive me crazy. Just this morning at breakfast, for example, he pulled my ponytail while she wasn’t looking, and then started crying loudly after I whacked him with an empty Cheerios box. Of course, I’m the one who got in trouble. My dad is nicer to Cole than he deserves, but I think he’s figured out his game a little bit better than Mom.

“Nothing much exciting happened at our house, either,” says Chloe, “but I did get this cute new purse.” Chloe is what you’d call a Fashionista. I admire the pretty, powder blue bag and notice the red, glittery, slide-on shoes she wears on her feet. She always manages to make our boring, private school uniforms look stylish.

“That’s nice,” I say.

As we near the classroom I see someone in the shadows and my heart starts to beat fast.

“Just great,” I mutter.

Lanie Mitchell, the class bully, heads our way from the opposite direction.

She sees us, grins, and blocks our path. Most of our classmates are 10, like me, but Lanie is already 12 years old. She’s the second tallest girl in 5B, behind Chloe, and a little bit on the chubby side.


~Follow the rest of the tour

-What inspired you to become a writer?

I’ve loved to read and write as long as I can remember. When I was in the fifth grade I won first place in a young authors contest at my school. Then in ninth grade my English teacher told me I had a way with words. An editorial I wrote was published in my hometown newspaper and my teachers posted it around my high school. Though I was kind of embarrassed to have my picture plastered everywhere it encouraged me to pick writing as a career. I’ve worked as a journalist and written freelance for magazines for years. I wanted to write my own novel and was inspired to publish Sophie Washington: The Snitch and the other books in my kid’s book series by all the things my three kids do.

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

If I could go back to being in the fifth grade for just one day I’d be the dodge ball queen. I’d play at recess and P.E. with no worries about what anyone thought of me and just enjoy being a kid.

-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell).

That she wishes she was as good at the Video Rangers video game as her brother, Cole. She tattles on him for playing all the time but gave up playing herself because she could only get to Level 2.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

Since all my characters are in fifth grade and way under the drinking age, I doubt I’d go out for drinks with them. I might take Sophie and Chloe out for milkshakes and fries after school. I’m sure they would be starving after giving bully Lanie Mitchell all their lunch money.

You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

Look around and see if he is really talking to me or someone behind me. If not, scream to distract him and get the heck out of there. I don’t do duels.

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

Horror. My family laughs at me because I sometimes scream out loud in the movies when something shocking happens. I keep my eyes closed during the scary scenes and don’t like watching things that are gory or too intense. If I wrote horror novels or thrillers I’d probably have insomnia or nightmares.


Tonya Ellis remembers hiding in the restroom from a few bullies during her elementary school days. She encourages kids to speak out if they are being mistreated. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist, written for newspapers and magazines and won awards for her books. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys reading, biking with her husband and two sons and daughter, and travelling to interesting places. SOPHIE WASHINGTON: The Snitch is the second book in a series about Sophie and her friends.

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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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