Sophie Washington: The Snitch
GENRE: Children's (Middle Grade)
That’s what 10-year-old Sophie Washington thinks until she runs into Lanie Mitchell, a new girl at school. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers, and even takes their lunch money. If they tell, they are scared the other kids in their class will call them snitches, and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that.
Excitement at home keeps Sophie’s mind off the trouble with Lanie. She takes a fishing trip to the Gulf of Mexico with her parents and little brother, Cole, and discovers a mysterious creature in the attic above her room. For a while, Sophie is able to keep her parents from knowing what is going on at school. But Lanie’s bullying goes too far, and a classmate gets seriously hurt. Sophie needs to make a decision. Should she stand up to the bully, or become a snitch?
“Nice glasses,” smiles Mariama, one of my other good friends in our class. Mariama’s family moved to our neighborhood from Nigeria last year. Some people make fun of her because she dresses different sometimes and talks with an African accent, but she’s really nice.
“Thanks, this is my first time wearing them,” I say. “I was a little nervous this morning.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be because they look really good,” she assures me. A few of our other classmates come through the hall, and no one seems to pay too much attention to me wearing glasses. Seems like it’s not a big deal after all.
“Hey Soph,” calls Chloe, rushing over to join us at the lockers, “those are some cute specs. I may get some with red frames to match my uniform logo.”
“You’re supposed to wear glasses to see, Chloe,” Mariama and I laugh.
“Well, they can be used for fashion, too,” she informs us.
We compare notes on last night’s science homework and grumble about the many review packets Mr. Simpson assigns.
“He must really want us to become astronauts,” Chloe complains.
“Yeah, it took me over an hour to get mine done,” I say.
Suddenly, I hear Mariama whistle under her breath.
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
I see Lanie moving in our direction.
You mean she bothers Mariama, too? I think to myself.
“Hey, Miss Tarzan,” Lanie says, turning toward our friend. “I see you’re wearing that necklace from Africa that you promised me,” she says, pointing at the string of colorful wooden beads my friend is wearing.
Mariama, who is at least a foot shorter than Lanie and probably 15 pounds lighter, starts to shake.
“My mother gave me this necklace,” she says, “and it was a gift from her mother to her.”
“Well, it’s going to be my gift now,” Lanie snarls, reaching out to grab it.
“Why don’t you give it a rest?” says Chloe, moving to block her.
“And who’s going to make me?” Lanie smirks.
I feel my face getting hot under my new glasses. I am so tired of Lanie bothering everybody and spoiling all our fun. If I wasn’t so scared of people calling me a snitch, I would march right down to the principal’s office and tell on this bully.
“Leave her alone, Lanie,” I say through gritted teeth.
“And who’s going to stop me?” she asks.
Lanie laughs and shoves me against the locker.
“You couldn’t stop a flea.”
“Come on, Sophie, let’s just go,” Chloe urges.
But I’ve had enough.
I shove the bully back.
“I said, leave her alone.”
Lanie looks surprised for a second.
“Fine, if she won’t give me her necklace, then I’ll take yours.”
She yanks my precious silver friendship chain from my neck and knocks me to the floor so quickly that my new glasses fall off.
“Sophie!” Chloe and Mariama rush over to help me as the bully hurries off down the hall.
“I hate her!” I reach on the floor for my new glasses and see that the glass is cracked in one of the lenses.
What am I going to do now?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Tonya Ellis loves reading so much that as a child she took books with her everywhere rather than put them down. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper when she was fourteen years old. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist, written for newspapers and magazines and won awards for her books. She is the mom of three spelling bee champions, and has judged several spelling bee events. SOPHIE WASHINGTON: QUEEN OF THE BEE is her debut novel in a series about Sophie and her friends. Currently, Ms. Ellis lives in Missouri City, Texas with her husband, daughter, and two sons.
The subject matter of this book is something that interests me and I would like to know how the author came to write a story about it.
Thank you, Miss Ellis, for responding:
“Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones”
This old saying is part true and part false. Getting hit with rocks and twigs is painful, but being teased or called cruel names can hurt just as badly. Kids subjected to physical and verbal bullying experience depression, poor school performance, social isolation, and may even commit suicide. Bullies get their power when their victims don’t turn them in.
In my book, Sophie Washington: The Snitch, preteen Sophie Washington and her friends experience bullying when Lanie Mitchell, a new girl comes to school. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers, and even takes their lunch money. If they tell, they are scared the other kids in their class will call them snitches and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that.
I came to write this story after my daughter started crying at the ending of a Christmas break. She didn’t want to go back to school, which she normally loved, and I couldn’t figure out why. Turns out a boy in her class had been shoving her and some of her good friends and threatened to stab one girl with a pencil. When I asked why she didn’t tell, she told me she didn’t want to be called a snitch and begged me not to turn him in. Other kids were made fun of in their class for tattling on wrongdoers and one classmate told her that “snitches get stiches.”
I was angry that my child was going through this and fascinated about why she didn’t want to tell. I remembered having bullies in my class growing up, but I was lucky enough not to attract their attention. Despite her pleas that we stay quiet, I reported the bully to the school and he was talked to. The bullying stopped and the girls learned a valuable lesson about standing up for themselves. I felt like this was an issue that impacts other children and that they could learn from and relate to our experience, and Sophie Washington: The Snitch was born.
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