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 another excerpt from SOPHIE WASHINGTON: HURRICANE, which we sent to our subscribers in October 2018.
Sophie Washington: Hurricane Excerpt 2
Rain, Rain, Go Away!
Drip, drop, drip drop.
A fine mist of rain splashes on the car window as we roll down the road.
“Get your feet off me,” I complain, shoving Cole over toward his side of the back seat.
“I’m not on you, you’re on me!” he elbows me back then slams his tote bag onto my backside.
He looks cute and cuddly, but Cole can be a major pain in the rear. My parents say I acted the same way when I was his age, and that I have matured since I started sixth grade a few months ago, but I don’t believe it.
“Cut it out back there, or you’re both in trouble!” my mother warns. She turns on the car radio to drown out our squabbling. I know she is nervous that Dad is still not home.
Last night he called to let us know he made it safely to our grandmother’s house. She has an older flip phone and it hadn’t been working well because lines were down from the storm. They are on their way back to Houston and should make it before we get home from school.
Cole starts to hum tunelessly, and I am very happy when we pull up to my school.
“See you later Mom!” I hop out the car as soon as it stops moving, and Cole follows right behind.
“Have a nice day kids,” calls Mom. “Love you!”
The scent of chalk, old books and wet umbrellas hits my nose as I enter the hallway, and dodge the jostling bodies of 200-plus middle schoolers. I smile as I get closer to my locker.
Though Xavier Academy is not my favorite place in the world, it’s fun to be with my friends every day. I spot my besties Chloe Hopkins and Mariama Asante and our other friends Toby Johnson and the Gibson twins, Carly and Carlton. In the middle of the group is Valentina Martinez, a girl I can’t stand.
“Hola! Did anybody see the new routine our cheer squad was practicing last week?” she says, tossing her shoulder length, black hair and doing a shimmy. “We’re performing it at the next basketball game, and it’s going to be so Lit.”
“Awesome,” says Chloe. She and Mariama hang on Valentina’s every word. It’s no secret that they want to try out for the cheer squad in a few weeks. I’m not that into sports, and I definitely don’t want to prance around cheering for a bunch of silly boys. Besides, I would rather be part of the action than the atmosphere at a game.
Ever since her BFF Maria Garcia moved a couple of weeks ago, Valentina’s been pushing her way into our friend group. Her constant adding of Spanish words to every conversation makes me gag. I’m so irritated thinking about Valentina that I don’t pay attention to where I’m going.
Nathan Jones, a boy I’ve known since fifth grade, zooms around the corner with a mason jar in his hand and clear plastic science goggles on his face. Nathan is wearing a white lab coat, and hopping in front of him is a ginormous gray-green frog.
“Eeeeek!” I scream in shock, unable to move.
“Grab him, Sophie! I need that frog to finish my science experiment!!” Nathan calls.
Water sloshes out of the jar as Nathan and the frog get closer. Then he steps in the puddle and starts sliding. He’s running so fast that he can’t slow down.
“Oh no!” I cower to avoid him, but as he swerves, Nathan dumps the water from the jar on my head. We ram into each other, ending up in a jumbled heap on the floor then the frog leaps over us, croaks and heads down the stairway.
“That was hilarious!” laughs Valentina snapping a picture on her cellphone. “I can’t wait to post this.”
“Don’t you dare!” I struggle to my feet, and try to snag her phone, but she shuffles away.
“Look everybody!” she shrieks, skipping over to the growing group of kids.
I quickly glance at Nathan. “Are you OK?”
“Yeah, just bummed that Exhibit A of my experiment got away,” he says standing and rubbing his head. Nathan is one of the smartest kids in the sixth grade, and a good friend. He had surgery on his leg last year when a bully pushed him down in the hallway, so he is always careful not to injure it again.
“Let me see those pictures,” I shove my way into the group, and all my friends are bent over their phones, laughing at the photos Valentina took of me and Nathan.
We’re tangled up on the checkered school floor like a Twister game gone wrong. My mouth is open in a scream, and Nathan’s eyes are bulged out. The most embarrassing is the shot of the frog leaping over our heads.
“Nathan wishes he could jump that high on the basketball court,” jokes Toby Johnson.
“It looks like Mr. Toad and Sophie are smooching,” giggles Valentina, her brown eyes twinkling. “Like mi abuela always says, Sophie, you need to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.”
I want to slap her but don’t say anything. At least she put the pictures on SnapShot so they should be gone by tomorrow.
“Very funny, Valentina,” says Nathan. “If anyone happens to see Mr. Toad, please let me know because I need him to finish my science project.”
“Sure thing, bro,” Toby gives him a fist bump.
“I’m sorry for laughing, Sophie,” says Chloe. “I’m glad you guys weren’t hurt.”
“We’re fine,” I say, as I wring more water from my plaits.
Valentina changes the subject, and brings out some churros to share that her grandmother, or abuela, as she calls her, made. The sweet cinnamon scent makes my stomach growl, but I don’t eat any. Next, Valentina invites Chloe and Mariama to meet her in the gym after school to practice cheers.
“I thought we were going to study for our English quiz together in aftercare,” I tell Chloe.
“Could we do it tomorrow?” she asks. “I really want to get that new cheer routine down before tryouts.”
“The quiz is tomorrow,” I answer. “And you’re the one who asked me to help, you, but that’s OK, forget it.”
“Bueno, let’s walk to English class together!” Valentina links arms with Chloe and Mariama, and I walk two steps behind.
By the time my mom pulls up to get me after school, I can’t wait to go home. The rain starts falling again as soon as we slip into our seats, and my bratty brother immediately begins his antics.
“Why did the iPad go to the dentist?” he jokes “It had Bluetooth.”
I stare out the window and shrug when Mom asks me about my day. There is no need to tell her my feelings. She always takes everyone else’s side. I already know what she’d say: “You’re being too sensitive, Sophie. Give other people a chance.”
But I know that Valentina is as fake as monopoly money, and I’m going to make sure that everyone finds out.