This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
See below to read an excerpt and a great Interview. And ...to sign up for the GIVEAWAY
Anything boys can do girls can do better
Xavier Academy is having a computer coding competition with a huge cash prize! Sixth grader Sophie Washington and her friend Chloe can’t wait to enter with their other classmates, Nathan and Toby. The only problem is that the boys don’t think the girls are smart enough for their team and have already asked two other kids to work with them. Determined to prove the boys wrong, Sophie and Chloe join forces with classmates Mariama, Valentina, and “brainiac,” Rani Patel, to form their own all-girl team called “Code One.” Computer coding isn’t easy, and the ladies get more than they bargain for when hilarious mishaps stand in their way. It’s girls versus boys in the computer coding competition as Sophie and her friends work day and night to prove that anything boys can do girls can do better!
Tonya Duncan Ellis has done it again. Written a middle grade book that I didn’t put down til I’d read every page. I must admit I have read and reviewed another of her books and was just as happy with it.
The series story is written around a family, a couple and two children. It contains everything you can imagine a younger brother and his sister go through…brother teasing the older girl, kids fighting, some bullying at school, making friends. etc. All the good things we experienced at that age and all the very hurtful ones. All of the things our parents were mad at us about and all of the things they encouraged. But here’s the difference in Ellis’ stories.
That’s what they are. Stories. Never a preachy lesson, yet easy and fun to read and always with something going on. This time it’s a competitive project in school.
At times it’s difficult to talk about book characters in this age genre. On the other hand, I liked Sophie and her brother Cole. I liked her friends too. I’ve read many adult books that I couldn’t remember the character names. To me this means there must have been some distinct definition, or everything wouldn’t stick with me as it has.
This would be a great book for parents to read with their 4th thru 6th graders. It could easily invoke some very good discussions. Even family dinner table conversations (do those exist anymore). And most certainly ideas and subjects that wouldn’t hurt any of us to revisit.
This is a series of Sophie Washington books. All have high ratings.
Read an excerpt...
“Hey, ladies,” Toby grins back and shows his dimple. I remember when his smile made my day go from gray to rainbow bright. I had a major crush on Toby when he came to Xavier and went through all kinds of changes to get his attention. I’m embarrassed thinking about how I acted like I love basketball, which I can’t stand, because he is a star player on our school’s team, and how I even swiped a cell phone from one of my little brother’s friends so I could call Toby. I found out he didn’t really care about any of that stuff and liked me for myself. We aren’t a couple or anything, but I’m glad we’re friends.
“Whatcha reading?” I point at pieces of paper on the table that the boys are staring at like they’re Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.
“An invitation for teams to sign up for the new computer coding club,” answers Nathan, pushing his dark-rimmed glasses up on his nose. “Xavier is having a coding competition to see who can make the best computer app.”
“What’s coding?” I ask.
“A special language that computer programmers use to tell the computer what to do,” Nathan explains. “like show a video, or start a game.”
“We’re thinking about making an app that’s similar to the video game, Fortify,” says Toby. “The grand prize is two hundred dollars, and it’s split between all the team members. I want some new basketball shoes, and my dad says I have to come up with half the money myself, so this will be a quick way to get it.”
“Count us in!” enthuses Chloe. “We could always use some extra cash for trips to the mall.”
“Yeah, that sounds like fun,” I add.
“Wait a minute, ladies,” says Nathan. “Coding isn’t as easy as turning a cartwheel. We really want to win.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” asks Chloe, putting her hands on her hips. “You don’t think you could win with us on the team?”
“I-I didn’t say that,” he stammers. “It’s just with your…umm…disability and all…and all the time you have to practice for cheerleading, I wonder if you could really help us.”
Now he’s done it. I can almost see the steam coming out of Chloe’s curls. My best friend has dyslexia, a condition that makes her see numbers and letters differently. Because of it, she takes longer to read and do math than other kids and is in some special classes. She gets very angry when people make fun of her about it, or act like she’s not smart.
“If you’re so worried about us being in cheer why would you pick Toby for the team?” Chloe counters. “He practices his basketball just as much as we practice for cheerleading, and we’re all at the same games.”
“Toby is a level one Fortify player,” Nathan says. “He knows everything about the game, so he can help us write a plan for how the app should work.”
“Oooo, I guess we should bow down to the expert,” says Chloe.
“My eight-year-old brother Cole plays Fortify,” I pipe in. “I’m sure it’s not too hard to figure out.”
“Yeah, you guys just don’t want us,” Chloe frowns.
“Nobody’s trying to keep you girls from being on the team.” Carlton holds his palms up to keep the peace. “It’s just that we’ve asked a couple other guys to be on our team already, so we don’t have room for anyone else.”
“Exactly. We’d love to have the extra ‘brain power,’ but our group is full,” Nathan agrees. “In fact, I wish I could make an app to clone myself. Then I’d have another person to do my school assignments while I’m working on this.”
“Why’d we want to have two of you?” says Chloe. “There are enough jerks running around this school. Come on, Sophie! Since their group is so ‘crowded,’ let’s find a table where there is enough space for us.”
She turns on her heels and moves toward another table, and I follow.
“Chloe, hold up! Don’t be like that!” Toby calls. She doesn’t look back.
“Let her go, man,” says Nathan, “It’s not worth it.” They turn back to the flyers.
“The nerve of those boys!” Chloe huffs as we sit down at a table in a corner of the room. “I can’t believe they think we’re not smart enough to help them win the competition.”
I shake my head and smooth my uniform skirt. I am especially surprised at Nathan, since I beat him in both the school and regional spelling bees last year. “They think we’re dumb just because we are cheerleaders and because we’re girls.”
“Well, we’ll show them!” Chloe yanks a coding club flyer off the cafeteria wall. “Let’s sign up for the competition and beat the pants off them!”
“Yeah, they’ll wish that they begged us to be on their team!” I agree.
We high five, and then start reviewing the contest rules as we eat our sandwiches. The coding club meeting is tomorrow afternoon in the school computer lab. I can’t wait to see Nathan’s and Toby’s faces when we show up with our own winning team.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tonya Duncan Ellis is the author of the Amazon bestselling, Readers' Favorite "Five Star" rated, Sophie Washington children's books series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12, and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence, worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer, and is a graduate of Centre College of Kentucky and Washington University in St. Louis.
The Sophie Washington book series recounts the adventures of a precocious African American preteen from Houston, TX and her diverse group of friends. Each funny and heartwarming story teaches lessons about friendship, responsibility, truthfulness and perseverance. Books in the series include Queen of the Bee, The Snitch, Things You Didn't Know About Sophie, The Gamer, Hurricane, Mission: Costa Rica, and Secret Santa. Tonya loves to travel and has visited 49 American states and three continents, but some of her best journeys have been between the pages of a novel. As a girl she could always be found with a book in her hand, and reading is still one of her favorite hobbies. When she's not reading or writing, the author likes to ride her bike, swim, and spend time with her husband and three children. She lives in Missouri City, TX.
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