Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sophie's World

Sophie's World is the first in a series of six books about Sophie LaCroix, an imaginative, day-dreaming 6th grader.

The story opens as her class is loading the bus for a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg. She's just moved to Virginia and due to frequent lapses into imagined adventures, she’s dubbed as the weird girl. She’s partnered with Maggie, a girl who’s not in the popular crowd, but who doesn’t want to associate with Sophie’s odd behaviors.

Sophie copes with the boredom and loneliness by imagining an elaborate Revolutionary War adventure and winds up separated from the group in an 17th century graveyard. She enters Bruton Parish Church and as she prays for just one friend in her new school, Ms. Quelling finds her. She’s in big trouble, and her grades are dropping, too.

Sophie’s prayers are answered the following day when she meets Fiona, a fellow dreamer, and they act out the Colonial saga together. The popular girls, or "Corn Pops," tease the girls and Fiona stands up for them, asking, “But who says what’s weird and what’s not?”

Sophie’s parents enlist the help of Dr. Peter, a friendly psychologist with a Christian perspective. He suggests an outlet for her imagination: the use of a video camera to record her stories. Sophie’s Dad will find her a used video camera if she can pull her grades up to a C at minimum. Fiona’s dad finds the camera, and Fiona promises to help Sophie in school so they can use the camera in their Williamsburg story.

Not only do the girls study together, but they develop a code to keep Sophie on task in school. When Sophie begins to drift away into a dream, Fiona coughs to remind Sophie to pay attention. Sophie raises her grades well beyond the minimum and earns the camera. The Corn Pops become jealous of her academic success and they accuse the cough of being a secret cheating mechanism. Ms. Quelling sides with the Corn Pops, but Maggie intervenes in a parent-teacher conference and tells Ms. Quelling that she overheard the girls discussing strategies for raising Sophie’s grades and none of them involved cheating.

Fiona and Sophie invite Maggie to join in their video role-playing, but soon regret it because of Maggie’s bossy manner and poor acting skills.

The Corn Pops kick Kitty out of their clique because she feels bad about the dishonesty. Kitty has no other friends and desperately wants to get back with the popular girls, so she follows their orders and crawls across the playground. Sophie witnesses this and invites Kitty to be her friend. When Fiona wants to kick Maggie out of the “Corn Flakes” drama group, Sophie reluctantly agrees. When she realizes they’ve hurt Maggie and they’ve behaved no better than the Corn Pops, she gets into a huge fight with Fiona.

During these problems, Dr. Peter coaches Sophie to imagine what Jesus what do instead of drift into another fantasy. She learns to rely on prayer and develops a risky plan to help Kitty, to expose the Corn Pops, and to try to repair her friendship with Fiona.

What I Like: The author covers all the bases of a tween girl’s life: parents, siblings, friends, teachers, faith, fitting in, and doing the right thing. I like that Sophie is an imperfect, eccentric girl. The historical tidbits on Colonial America provide a cool background for the story. I loved the short glossary in the back for more difficult words, such as pessimistic and heinous.

What I Dislike: Sophie believes that her Dad doesn’t love her as much as her older sister, and this issue never gets resolved. I found it hard to believe that her parents didn’t talk to her about using prayer as a solution because they are a Christian family. Placing 6th grade in elementary school rather than middle school didn’t feel authentic, particularly in light of the Corn Pops’ devious scheming.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: Ages 8-12.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2004; ISBN: 0-310-70756-0; Paperback $6.99.

Buy it Now at for $5.49.
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Special Info: For more information about Nancy Rue and her books, visit her Faithgirlz website. You may also be interested in our reviews of other books written by this author.

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