Sophie Hartley is not the type of MG book I would normally review. I’d never even heard of Sophie and there are three that preceded this one (QUEEN SOPHIE HARTLEY; SOPHIE HARTLEY ON STRIKE: and HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOPHIE HARTLEY). Okay, I can explain…
It began with an email from a fourth grader’s mom. She said her daughter was getting overly anxious about the Growing and Changing unit coming up next school year. Anxious in “I’m not interested.” Her Mom knowing I knew about books for this age asked me for a fiction recommendation to ease her daughter’s worries over the summer. My mind went blank. Other than Judy Blume, I had nothing. I told her I’d get back to her in a few days. Within an hour I found Sophie and the next day visited the library. Sure enough Sophie was on the shelf waiting for her next reader. I never recommend something I haven’t read myself so my next stop was the check-out desk. I gave the lady my best this isn’t for me look and for the next few days I got to know Sophie. I was pleasantly surprised. Author Stephanie Greene has created an enduring character. This book and I’m sure the others are a great introduction for a new middle grade reader.
PUBLICATION DATE:2013 READING LEVEL: 4.3 WORD COUNT: 23,423
FULL PLOT (From Amazon): Sophie Hartley, age ten, does not want to be a teenager. She vows she’ll never be like her older sister, Nora, who has tantrums about her hair and almost everything else. Her older brother Thad is preoccupied with his girlfriend of the moment and doesn’t seem to like the family anymore. No, Sophie likes being who she is right now, helping out at home, doing art projects, and hanging out with her two best friends.
And another thing. Next year Sophie’s class will see the movie about body changes, and her classmates are already buzzing about it. Sophie doesn’t want to know about that embarrassing stuff yet. Does that mean she’s immature? How can she prove otherwise?
As usual, Sophie faces challenges and challengers with determination and resourcefulness. With the same down-to-earth, realistic, humorous take on friendships and family relationships praised in the three previous Sophie Hartley books, this new story brings the indomitable Sophie a step closer to growing up without compromising her sense of herself.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT SOPHIE HARTLEY AND THE FACTS OF LIFE
- The five children in the Hartley range from toddler to 16 years old. What a great mix of personalities and they demonstrate how difficult it can be growing up in a large family with a lot of opinions.
- How the mom and dad understood each other more after trading places. Mom takes off on the road for a conference and dad stays home to take care of family duties.
- Older brother Thad’s explanation of how hormones and glands are like a car. Never heard of this comparison but it works. The unlikely analogy helps Sophie get an initial understanding of the facts of life.
- It was great to see Sophie grow up just a little towards her teenage years even though she didn’t want to at first.
- Humorous and heartwarming. It’s a quick read, perfect for a fourth or early fifth grade girl.
“If you ask me, it should be P-U-berty.” Sophie pinched her nose shut. “I’m sick of the whole thing.”
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.