We had a great conversation with Tonya Duncan Ellis about her SOPHIE WASHINGTON series of chapter books for our 7-9 year old subscribers. Here, she has provided us with an excerpt from SOPHIE WASHINGTON: HURRICANE, which we sent to our subscribers in October 2018.
Sophie Washington Hurricane: Excerpt One
“Ahhhhhowwwww!!!” my little brother Cole’s screams combine with our dog Bertram’s howls, as a blinding light flashes near the backyard. The hair on my arms stands on end. We zoom to the kitchen race car fast.
“Mooom!” I call.
Thunder booms. I cover my ears to stop the ringing. My mother, wild-eyed, joins us.
“It’s lightning!” she cries, pulling Cole and me in for a group hug; Bertram shivers in the middle.
Outside, rain pounds down in sheets. The power cuts off.
“Great,” says mom, as she stumbles through the blackness to the pantry to find candles and a lighter.
For about three minutes, we huddle together quietly in the dimly lit room.
“What do we do now?” Cole breaks the silence.
He edges way too close to me, and I have the urge to shove him off like I usually do, but I feel sorry for my little brother because if I’m scared, I’m sure he’s terrified.
“Ewwwww! You are so nasty, Cole!” Now I do push my little brother back. Leave it to him break wind at a time like this.
“Excuse me,” he says.
My mother starts giggling.
“I can’t believe you’re laughing, Mom!” Pinching my nose, at the sulfurous odor I stamp my feet.
The lights flick back on, and I squinch. Bertram barks and wags his tail happily.
I exhale, then sharply breathe back in a few seconds later, when we hear a clatter coming from the garage.
“Wait here, kids,” our mother cautiously moves toward the door that leads outside.
“Be careful,” I warn.
A minute later, she comes back, and my father follows. He’s wearing green scrubs from his dental office, so he must have had to fill cavities today. As usual, he looks calm even though the rest of us are freaking out.
“Daddy!” Cole and I cry, nearly knocking him down with our hugs.
The thunder was so loud we didn’t hear the garage door open.
“Did you see this?” he asks holding up a burnt plastic square that looks like a lunchbox someone set on fire.
“Lightning must have struck our back fence, and the volts burned up the electrical sockets to the sprinkler system,” Dad explains. “This box was blown across the wall clear to the other side of the garage when I came in.”
“Thank goodness it didn’t start a house fire!” Mom responds.
She starts moving around the kitchen to finish dinner, as things get back to normal, and I sit down to catch my breath. I see Cole sneaking his handheld video game out to play his favorite Video Rangers game. The rain has slowed down to a drizzle. I absently stroke Bertram’s black, curly fur and look out the window at water gushing from our sprinkler system.
I’ve always felt it was like the Animal Planetchannel here in our home near Houston, Texas. We’ve had huge buzzards on our roof, wild pigs in our front yard, and last year, we actually saw an eight-foot-long alligator in our subdivision when we were riding our bikes. Those things were crazy, but lately, it seems as if the natural world it taking over even more. My friend Mariama and her family had to ride down their neighborhood in a kayak last year when rain water flooded their house, and Dad’s dental office filled with almost two feet of water too.
Lately, we’ve had Noah’s ark-like rain storms, and according to the weather reports, it’s going to get worse.
“Turn on the news and see what they are saying,” says Dad.
“A Category 2 hurricane is headed toward Corpus, Christi, TX,” says the newscaster. “We are watching the storm closely and will keep you updated on all developments.”
“What’s a hurricane?” asks Cole. “Isn’t Corpus Crispi where Granny Washington lives?”
“It’s Corpus Christi, Silly” I say smacking his head.
“A hurricane is a huge storm that has heavy rain and lots of wind,” explains mom. “Remember when we had Hurricane Ike a few years ago and all those trees in our front yard fell down?”
“He was only two then, and he’s still a baby now,” I laugh.
“At age 11, it’s not like you’re a senior citizen,” mom replies.
“I’d better call your grandma to see what her plans are,” Dad pulls out his cell phone.
He waits a few seconds with the phone to his ear, then starts dialing again. “That’s funny,” he frowns. “The phone keeps dropping my calls. Your grandma keeps her phone charged at all times, so I wonder if the reception there is just bad because of the storm.”
Ten minutes later, Dad still hasn’t reached our grandma, and we all start to worry.
“I hope the storm doesn’t wash Granny Washington away,” Cole exclaims. “Where is she?”