Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis

If your child enjoys books with strong female protagonists, a hint of mystery, and the joy of Christmas, then Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis will be a perfect gift.

It’s a few weeks before Christmas and Sophie and her friends are busy as school is coming to a close before the break. When Sophie begins receiving presents from a secret Santa, she can only guess who it might be. Is it one of her friends or one of the boys she knows? The answer might surprise her.

Though this is the seventh book in the Sophie Washington series, it’s the first one I’ve read. It’s a quick, fun chapter book with cute illustrations. As the reader gets to know Sophie and her friends, they eagerly turn the pages to see if they can figure out who Sophie’s secret Santa really is. Sophie is spunky and she has a love him/not so in love with him relationship with her younger brother that makes her even more relatable. In addition to the mysterious Santa, the book also addresses the topic of bullying. I don’t think we can have enough books that tackle this issue, and I like the author’s handling of it within this story.

If you set a story at Christmas, you’ve already partially won my heart. Sophie Washington: Secret Santa also inspires me to check out the previous books in the series to follow more of Sophie’s adventures.

EXCERPT:

“Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg!”

“Be quiet, Cole!” I put my hands over my ears to muffle my brother’s out-of-tune singing and focus back on my laptop to finish my English essay. It’s less than three weeks until winter break and my teachers have been piling on the assignments to make sure we get our end of semester grades in.

There sure is a big change between fifth and sixth grade, workwise, at Xavier Academy, the private school my brother and I go to. Between all the essays and projects and studying for final exams, I feel I can barely take time to pat my dog, Bertram, when I get home; whereas, my eight-year-old brother Cole acts like he’s already on vacation.

Since we got home from school an hour ago, he’s been living it up, shooting hoops in the driveway, eating a snack and now playing on the handheld video game player that my mother would make him put up if she were downstairs with us. I ought to tell on him now…

Ding Dong!

The doorbell interrupts my thoughts.

“Can you get it, Sophie?” Mom yells from upstairs. “I’m putting some clothes in the closet.”

I would ask her why she wants me to answer the door, and not Cole, but I already know the answer: “Because you’re the oldest.”

Of course, that logic doesn’t hold when it comes to who gets the first dessert or who doesn’t have to do the dishes at night. As the baby of the family and favored child, my little brother has got it made.

I trudge to the front door in time to see the mail carrier heading back to his truck. He’s left a medium-sized box on the porch. Wonder what it is?

My mother sometimes has holiday packages delivered to the house, but Cole and I haven’t made our Christmas lists yet, so I doubt it’s anything for us. I open the door, pick the package up, and check out the label. It’s got my name on it in bright, red ink, “Sophie Washington.”

Who could this be from?

I never get any mail, except for birthday gifts my Granny Washington sends to our house in Houston from Corpus Christi when she can’t be here, and I don’t remember my parents ordering anything for us online. Granny is driving up to see us tomorrow, so I doubt she would mail presents here when she could just bring them with her.

“Mom, I got a package!” I call out.

“What is it?” Cole bounds from the family room to stare at the box as I set it on the kitchen counter.

“Back off, Cole, it’s mine,” I move him to the side with my hip and take a closer look at the delivery. The box is wrapped in brown paper, and there is no return address. It looks difficult to open with my fingers, so I pull a butter knife out of a drawer in the kitchen and slit through the tape on the side. A sweet, sugary scent fills the air.

“Cool!” exclaims Cole in appreciation as the brown wrapping slides off to reveal a box filled with packages of licorice, gummy bears, gum, and red and green M&Ms. I notice a typed note underneath.

Dear Sophie,
Hope your day is super sweet!
Your Secret Santa

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 2 – 6
Series: Sophie Washington (Book 7)
Paperback: 122 pages
Publisher: Page Turner Publishing (September 10, 2018)
Language: English

Digital version available for only 99 cents!

Also available in softcover!

Website: tonyaduncanellis.com

Facebook: @tonyaellisbooks

Twitter: @TonyaDEllis

I received a digital copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

GIVEAWAY

Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Too Big by Judy Dearborn Nill

You’ll find the topics of bullying, peer pressure, friendship and learning to accept who you are wrapped up in a fabulously engaging story with Too Big by Judy Dearborn Nill.

Shelby Bradshaw considers skipping the fifth grade and going right to middle school. Academically that won’t be a problem, but it’s really to escape all the teasing she has endured since her growth spurt. She’ll miss being with her best friend Zoe, but maybe it will all be worth it.

Though there are many teaching points and topics for discussion, the young reader will also discover a great plot and interesting characters. They might know a Shelby or a Zoe or a Marissa or a Deke or a Kenny. They might have experienced some of what these characters have. Misunderstandings happen. People aren’t always who you think they are. Sometimes actions have bad consequences. Maybe a good idea ends up not being so good later.

Too Big tackles real issues that kids are dealing with and handles them without trivializing them or the real feelings young people must cope with. Too Big is an awesome book. I’m so glad the author asked me to review it. I’ll be looking for more of her work in the future.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 6
Paperback
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing; Large type / large print edition edition (October 22, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616338075
ISBN-13: 978-1616338077

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

New from Guardian Angel Publishing

Megan is bullied because she has rabbit ears. She writes her diary about her problem. But her friend Tory convinces her instead of always hiding them under hats to learn to love herself for who she is and not let anyone else’s opinions make her hide.

Tootsie is a little dog who pees a lot and in all the wrong places. He pees in the library, the grocery store, the café, and anywhere else he pleases. When his mischievous behavior catches up with him, Tootsie must make a decision, but will it be too late?

In the early 600’s, a baby found on the steps of a monastery becomes a kitchen boy for the fearsome Father Pieter. Beggar boys, a monster oven, and mystery bread lead us to a new understanding of Lent. Includes a recipe for pretzels.

An easy-to-sing-and-stage children’s Easter musical created to help children understand the power of the cross and resurrection of our Lord. The simple drama and kid-tested songs make this book a valuable ministry resource for Christian schools and children’s choirs. A must-have for churches with limited resources.

Kitsy and her two brothers grew up in California’s Mojave Desert during the 1940’s. In Mischief and Horses Kitsy recounts some of the hardships, struggles, and joys faced during their childhood of moving from one foster care farm to another.

It’s Groundhog Day in Amazing Grace Acres! Gracie Groundhog holds the spotlight as the official forecaster of spring. Her brother, Grover, devises a plan to steal the show! Will Grover succeed? Will Gracie find a way to forgive him? Will spring come early or will the animals have to hunker down for six more weeks of winter?

Visit www.guardianangelpublishing.com for these and other children’s books.

Results Are In!

As part of the Author Fair I participated in, visitors voted on which of my story ideas I should work on next. Here are the winners listed by popularity.

Picture Book/Early Readers

  1. Re-imagined Little Red Riding Hood with a modern girl who outwits the wolf.
  2. On a cold Christmas Eve, a tiny buck is frightened away from his home by a bear. He’s gone so far that he doesn’t know the way home, but then he remembers something his mother always told him and her wisdom help guides him home.
  3. An ingenious turkey comes up with ways to avoid becoming Thanksgiving Day dinner.
  4. Five-year-old Beatrice and her make-believe friend Charlotte go on an adventure where they imagine the lawn mower is really a dinosaur eating up everything and they must escape.
  5. A young boy comes up with a plan to save Christmas when Santa cancels the holiday because there are too many kids on the naughty list.

Middle Grade/Tween

  1. When an eleven-year-old victim of excessive bullying commits suicide, the residents of her small town are left with the struggle of maintaining the status quo or changing how they treat each other.
  2. A time travel series where two or three kids travel to the past via a certain object and meet historical figures along the way, helping to solve some problem. Once the problem is solved, the object brings them back home.
  3. A time travel story where a child journeys to the future and helps an older person, discovering at the end that the person she helped was her older self.
  4. A mystery about private school kids on a field trip who work to uncover a missing artifact or find a student who goes missing.

Young Adult and Adult

  1. Modern day Romeo and Juliet story.
  2. Thriller about a wife who attempts to murder her husband and then disappears. With the help of a private investigator who is his former girlfriend he works to track down his wife.
  3. A mystery with a love triangle set in the 1970s.
  4. A story of three sisters from a dysfunctional family each coping with a crisis and how those crises draw them together.

Please vote for your favorites in the comments section of this post. Thanks.

New from Guardian Angel Publishing

book 1

A touching story about eight year old Ellie and her separation from her family in the midst of World War II when Jews were not safe. Neighbors and strangers risk their lives to keep her alive and get her on a ship that will take her to relatives in America. A historical chapbook for older kids.

book 2

Giving can come in a variety of ways. This warm thought-provoking story is told to pass on the art and joy of “heart giving” to children. Anyone can give, anytime, anywhere! The best gifts are those which come from deep inside our hearts. Share the story – love giving.

book 3

When Dad loses his job, their family must move in with grandparents. Sarah, Owen and Olivia struggle with the loss of their old house, friends, and school, but their outlook improves when the family begins stargazing. Through the allure of astronomy and the opportunity to talk together undistracted, they discover ways to “see in the dark”.

book 4

A dish of bubble gum and learning to count has never been so much fun! Match colors and watch the bubble get bigger and bigger as you count higher and higher. Chomp, chomp, chew, chew. Look at the bubble you blew! Learn to count 1-10 with bubble gum and learn colors, too!

book 5

 

Sloth is a lazy and overweight dragon taking up space atop of a hoard of gold and jewels within a mountain inhabited by dwarves. One dwarf helps Sloth lose weight through diet and exercise. The grateful dragon, now able to fly, leaves the dwarf and his people a special gift.

book 6

 

The giggle provoking story of Poopsie, a playful ten-month old baby, who discovers Mommy’s ear and won’t let go, until he discovers that Daddy has ears too! Little Poopsie epitomizes the fascination babies develop for body parts. The story elicits a jovial joy ride in alliteration and rhyme.

For these are more books from Guardian Angel Publishing, please visit http://guardianangelpublishing.com/

Seasonal Titles from 4RV Publishing

Josephs Cradle cover 300 dpi

Joseph and his wife, Mary, expect a baby. With all that is happening, including the government requiring a census, Joseph feels a little overwhelmed and a bit left out of the preparations for the baby. Is there something he can do?

Hardcover: 24 pages
Publisher: 4RV Children’s Corner (October 23, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940310342
ISBN-13: 978-1940310343

Purchase here!

 

Strangers in the Stable by Jim Laughter promo
The narrator wonders, “Hundreds of tents are pitched in that field nearby. Why would anyone go camping on a winter day such as this?” So begins a night she and her stable mates would never forget. The words created by Jim Laughter and the illustrations that bring his words to life will be a book readers will not easily forget.

Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC (September 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0983274032

Purchase here!

The First Miracle by LA Willis

A blind cat witnesses the first miracle.

Reading level: Ages 6-12
Paperback: 28 pages
Published: Nov. 12, 2009
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982588607
ISBN-13: 978-0982588604

Purchase here!

Front cover Tumbleweed Christmas

Christmas is the time for miracles, but sometimes, a child must make her own miracle, and one for her siblings.

Reading level: 4 – 8
Paperback: 24 pages
Published: September 1, 2011
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-9832740-49

Purchase here!

cover wrap.indd

Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who only has one request for Santa, Robert is confused about what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC (December 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985266147
ISBN-13: 978-0985266141

Purchase here!

Free for Kindle: The Christmas Present by Alexander McCabe

Christmas presentI have a little secret to tell you that not many people know. Something that maybe your mum and dad don’t even know!

You see, at the very moment you were born, Santa allocated you an elf. It’s true! Your very own elf who watches to see when you have been naughty and nice. Every year, just before Christmas, your elf reports to Santa so he can decide what presents you can have from your list.

Yet there are some people that don’t believe in Santa. I know, I know, it’s crazy… but it’s true! Once those people stop believing in Santa, then their elf’s are sent away from the North Pole and only allowed back when they start to believe in him again.

Gabriel the Elf is very worried. His child is beginning to think that Santa isn’t real. Gabriel the Elf doesn’t want to be banished from all his friends at the North Pole, so what can he do? There is only one thing he can do.

He must prove that Santa is real.

File Size: 2029 KB
Print Length: 38 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Alexander McCabe (November 16, 2015)
Publication Date: November 16, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B01846R68A

Available here!