About the Book:
Growing up isn’t easy…
Sixth grader Sophie Washington thought she had life figured out when she was younger, but this school year, everything changed. She feels like an outsider because she’s the only one in her class without a cell phone, and her crush, new kid Toby Johnson, has been calling her best friend Chloe. To fit in, Sophie changes who she is. Her plan to become popular works for a while, and she and Toby start to become friends.
In between the boy drama, Sophie takes a whirlwind class field trip to Austin, TX, where she visits the state museum, eats Tex-Mex food, and has a wild ride on a kayak. Back at home, Sophie fights off buzzards from her family’s roof, dissects frogs in science class, and has fun at her little brother Cole’s basketball tournament.
Things get more complicated when Sophie “borrows” a cell phone and gets caught. If her parents make her tell the truth, what will her friends think? Turns out Toby has also been hiding something, and Sophie discovers the best way to make true friends is to be yourself.
Targeted Age Group: 7-12
He loves me. He loves me not.
I shrug my shoulders and tug the last petal off the cream-colored daisy, watching it drift to the floor. Then I scoot the mess under my bed with my feet. I have been playing this game every morning for the past week and come out losing more often than not.
“It’s no use,” I moan. “Toby will never like me!”
Toby Johnson joined our sixth-grade class this past fall, and it’s as if I’m seeing things through 3D glasses. Mom hardly has to call me to come down for school in the morning, because I can’t wait to get there. Our boring Texas history class is exciting now that Toby sits in the seat in front of me. Even P.E., which I’ve always hated, is fun, because Toby is in the class. He tells funny jokes, is good in sports, and talks to everyone, even the shy and quiet kids.
Toby is a good student, so the teachers like him, too. And, he has all kinds of neat stories to tell about his old school in Cleveland, Ohio, where his family moved from. Toby says that in Cleveland they have enough snow every winter to make snowmen as tall as he is. I’ve never seen snow, except once when we drove through some flurries on a road trip to New Mexico.
Things have been great since Toby got here, except he doesn’t know I like him, and probably doesn’t care. He’s too busy making Goo Goo eyes at my best friend Chloe, the prettiest girl in the class. Not that I’m bad looking or anything, but next to her, I’m not so much. She’s tall and has long, black, curly hair, and wears cute red bows and bracelets that make her look like a movie star, even in our school uniform. I, on the other hand, wear ponytails and need glasses to see the board.
No one knows how I feel about Toby. Not even Chloe. If anyone found out, I’d never come out of my room.
“Sophie, time for breakfast!” Mom calls.
I grab my backpack and rush out my bedroom door.
Bam! Me and my eight-year-old brother, Cole, collide.
“Move back, Creep!” he yells.
“Look where you’re going, Blockhead,” I counter.
“I was watching where I was going,” he frowns. “You were just running through the house again like Mom and Dad told you not to.”
I love my little brother, but he can be such a pain sometimes.
“Can you two please be nice to each other?” pleads Mom as we enter the kitchen, still grumbling.
“Cereal’s for breakfast. I’m helping in Daddy’s office this morning, so we need to leave early.” Mom slides in her earrings and scrolls through her cell phone while we pour cornflakes into our bowls.
Our father is a dentist and has his own dental practice. Two or three days a week, Mom goes in to help him with accounting and checking in patients in his office in downtown Houston. Since we attend Xavier Academy, a private school that doesn’t have a school bus, she drives us to school every morning.
Mom’s been working with our father most days recently because the city had heavy rains earlier this spring. A couple of weeks ago, his office flooded. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, like Noah’s ark. Dad had to see patients in a building across the street while repairs were being made. A lot of his medical equipment was ruined. Dad left his cell phone there and it got water damage, and still needs to be replaced. I don’t know how he can stand being without it. He’s been using an old flip phone until he has time to buy a new one.
I didn’t go in the office when it was filled with water, but Mom told me it was up to her knees.
The suburb we live in has good drains, thank goodness, so our neighborhood didn’t flood. But, water rose up to the waists of some statues of children playing near a gas station a few blocks down from our house, and someone put life jackets on them as a joke.
My friend Mariama’s house did flood, and her family had to actually float down their street in kayaks. Lucky for them, they didn’t see any alligators swimming around, because, believe it or not, there are some alligators in the waterways in our area. My dad jokes that they could film our suburb on the Animal Planet channel.
“Your birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, Sophie,” says my father, joining the rest of us in the kitchen. “What gift would you like this year?”
I grin. I can’t believe that I’ll soon be 11 years old. Seems like just yesterday I was turning double digits. “Since you asked, there is something very special I would like for my birthday,” I say, smiling shyly.
“I hope it’s not a sleepover like you had last year,” says Cole. “I don’t want to have to leave the house just because a lot of icky girls are here.”
“If I get what I want, I can talk to my friends without you even seeing them,” I tell my brother.
“I think I know where this conversation is going, and I don’t know if I like it,” says Mom. “You know how I feel about preteens having cell phones.”
“But I’m the only one of my friends without one!” I whine. “It’s not fair.”
“Use the landline,” Mom suggests.
“The home phone doesn’t have a contact list, or a way for Sophie to remember her friends’ phone numbers like a cell phone does,” says Cole, coming to my rescue.
I’ve got to give it to the kid; he realizes that any win for me will be a win for him, since he’s spoiled rotten and always gets to do everything way earlier than I ever did.
“It might be something to consider, Honey,” says Dad, to my surprise. He turns to my mother. “The kids have been staying after school more often with you helping out so much at the office. That would be a way for us to contact them more easily if we have any delays.”
“You’re the best Dad ever!” I run to give him a hug.
“This isn’t settled yet,” Mom says, grabbing her car keys from her purse. “Your Dad and I will discuss this later. Finish up your breakfast and let’s get ready to go.”
Daddy gives me a wink as we move to the garage. I wonder what color phone case I will get?