Sophie Washington: The Snitch
by Tonya Duncan Ellis
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Interview with Tonya Duncan Ellis :
Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting Tonya Duncan Ellis. Welcome, Tonya! I'm so happy to have you here. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
Tonya: I was born and raised in Louisville, KY but have lived in the Houston area, a place I love, for the past 14 years. I’m married and have three children. I’ve worked as a journalist and freelance writer but have always wanted to write my own book. I was inspired to start my Sophie Washington chapter book series based on the antics of my own three children and my love for one-of-a-kind Houston surburbia (we see 8-foot alligators and wild boar roaming through our neighborhoods on a regular basis) that I felt would be interesting to many.
Crystal: What are you currently working on?
Tonya: My current project, due to be released this March, is Sophie Washington: Hurricane. In this book Sophie and her family are evacuated from their home in the Houston suburbs when a natural disaster hits the city. She learns lessons about gratefulness and appreciation when a friend is flooded out of her home.
Crystal: Where did you come up with the idea for either your current release or your current WIP?
Tonya: The Snitch came about after my daughter and some of her friends were harassed at school and were more nervous about other kids calling them tattletales than the pain inflicted by the bully. I came up with the idea for Hurricane after I lived through Hurricane Harvey. It was a surreal experience seeing alligators swimming around places where I had played tennis and my neighbors floating down streets in kayaks. Our diverse community pulled together in a way that was heartwarming.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite snack that you like to munch on while writing? If so would you mind sharing what it is with us?
Tonya: I usually don’t eat much when I’m writing, but if I want to nibble I choose popcorn and peanut M & Ms, eating a handful of one and then the other.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
Tonya: My favorite scene in The Snitch is in Chapter 12 “Lights, Camera, Action.” The kids have decided they’ve had enough of Lanie Mitchell’s bullying and plan to secretly video tape her in action on their cell phones so they can turn her in. Sophie has pretty much been a wimp throughout the book but this time she stands up for herself. Things get out of hand and one of the characters ends up getting hurt.
Crystal: When you are not busy writing wonderful stories to keep us lucky readers entertained, what do you like to do? Do you have a hobby?
Tonya: Reading is my main hobby and I also like to do active things such as ride my bike outside and go swimming. A couple of years ago I took up knitting as a hobby with a care team at my son’s school. My family teases me that I’m like a little old lady but it’s really relaxing. We make blankets for people with health issues and this past year donated 100 completed blankets to families who were flooded out of their homes from Hurricane Harvey. A mom who got one of my blankets came to me crying and told me what a comfort it was to her family to cuddle up in the blanket in their upstairs since their downstairs is still under repair. This was so touching to me.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite background noise you like to have going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?
Tonya: I hate lots of background noise when I am writing at home. I rarely have music playing because I start singing to it and lose focus, and TV noise gets on my nerves. I’ve yelled upstairs to my kids to be quiet at least five times while I’ve been working on blog tour responses this afternoon. Surprisingly, I’m able to tune out sounds when I write away from home, and I’ve completed parts of Sophie Washington: The Snitch, waiting for my kids to finish team practices and other appointments.
Crystal: Thanks for visiting. It has been a pleasure having you visit today. Can you think of anything else you would like to share with us today?
Tonya: Thanks for having me, and thanks to readers for stopping by to the blog post to learn more about me and my Sophie Washington book series!
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?
GENRE: Children's (Middle Grade)
“Nice glasses,” smiles Mariama, one of my other good friends in our class. Mariama’s family moved to our neighborhood from Nigeria last year. Some people make fun of her because she dresses different sometimes and talks with an African accent, but she’s really nice.
“Thanks, this is my first time wearing them,” I say. “I was a little nervous this morning.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be because they look really good,” she assures me. A few of our other classmates come through the hall, and no one seems to pay too much attention to me wearing glasses. Seems like it’s not a big deal after all.
“Hey Soph,” calls Chloe, rushing over to join us at the lockers, “those are some cute specs. I may get some with red frames to match my uniform logo.”
“You’re supposed to wear glasses to see, Chloe,” Mariama and I laugh.
“Well, they can be used for fashion, too,” she informs us.
We compare notes on last night’s science homework and grumble about the many review packets Mr. Simpson assigns.
“He must really want us to become astronauts,” Chloe complains.
“Yeah, it took me over an hour to get mine done,” I say.
Suddenly, I hear Mariama whistle under her breath.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
I see Lanie moving in our direction.
You mean she bothers Mariama, too? I think to myself.
“Hey, Miss Tarzan,” Lanie says, turning toward our friend. “I see you’re wearing that necklace from Africa that you promised me,” she says, pointing at the string of colorful wooden beads my friend is wearing.
Mariama, who is at least a foot shorter than Lanie and probably 15 pounds lighter, starts to shake.
“My mother gave me this necklace,” she says, “and it was a gift from her mother to her.”
“Well, it’s going to be my gift now,” Lanie snarls, reaching out to grab it.
“Why don’t you give it a rest?” says Chloe, moving to block her.
“And who’s going to make me?” Lanie smirks.
I feel my face getting hot under my new glasses. I am so tired of Lanie bothering everybody and spoiling all our fun. If I wasn’t so scared of people calling me a snitch, I would march right down to the principal’s office and tell on this bully.
“Leave her alone, Lanie,” I say through gritted teeth.
“And who’s going to stop me?” she asks.
Lanie laughs and shoves me against the locker.
“You couldn’t stop a flea.”
“Come on, Sophie, let’s just go,” Chloe urges.
But I’ve had enough.
I shove the bully back.
“I said, leave her alone.”
Lanie looks surprised for a second.
“Fine, if she won’t give me her necklace, then I’ll take yours.”
She yanks my precious silver friendship chain from my neck and knocks me to the floor so quickly that my new glasses fall off.
“Sophie!” Chloe and Mariama rush over to help me as the bully hurries off down the hall.
“I hate her!” I reach on the floor for my new glasses and see that the glass is cracked in one of the lenses.
What am I going to do now?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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.