Sophie Washington: Mismatch

Children - Grade 4th-6th
154 Pages
Reviewed on 07/18/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer) for Readers' Favorite

Have you ever been partnered with someone you didn't like? That's the problem main character Sophie faces in the book Sophie Washington: Mismatch by Tonya Duncan Ellis. Sophie decided to try out for her school’s tennis team and was happy when she made the team, but not so happy when she was paired up with a girl named Mackenzie who doesn't want to learn secret handshakes and barely talks to her at practice. To make matters worse, the team captain, an older girl named Kennedy, is being mean to Sophie and her friends. But when Sophie agrees with a nasty comment Kennedy says and Mackenzie overhears, her partner begins to skip practices. Can Sophie make things right with Mackenzie in time for their first game, or was the pairing really just a mismatch?

With relatable problems, likable characters, and an interesting plot, Sophie Washington: Mismatch by Tonya Duncan Ellis is a really enjoyable book. Many people can relate to the problems Sophie faces in this book, from being paired with a person they aren't keen on to bullies. The way she confronts them is brave and smart and sure to inspire the reader to do the same next time they face the same challenge. The characters are unique, diverse, and instantly likable. I love that people that aren't always represented in literature are depicted in this book. The plot is entertaining and brought to life with great characters and realistic scenes. The occasional pictures are well drawn and cute. I love that there’s a glossary of tennis terms at the back for readers who are less familiar with the sport and a few recipes for healthy snacks that were mentioned. I would most definitely recommend this book.

Jack Magnus

Sophie Washington: Mismatch is a coming of age novel for children, grades 4-6, written Tonya Duncan Ellis. Sophie and her friends, Chloe and Mariama, were excited to be trying out for Xavier’s tennis team. They all felt that they had a good chance at making the team since most of the middle graders at Xavier, the private school they attended, opted for track or softball instead. When they reached the tennis courts, they saw three eighth-graders who had already been on the team and were particularly unimpressed with Sophie and her friends. Only one other girl was there for tryouts: Mackenzie Clark, also a sixth-grader. Sophie had never had anything to do with Mackenzie. She didn’t seem outgoing or friendly and got in trouble a lot for being late. While Sophie was thrilled to be on a sports team, she really wasn’t keen on having Mackenzie as her partner. How could she get the Coach to fix what was obviously a mismatch?

In Tonya Duncan Ellis’s Mismatch, Sophie’s exuberance over becoming a team athlete is dampened by the partner Coach Quackenbush assigns her. She’s also learning to cope with the bullying attitudes of the eighth-grade team members and to resist the temptation to go along with Kennedy’s mean words about Mackenzie. I loved seeing Sophie expand and challenge herself, and enjoyed seeing how her dad takes an active interest in her tennis. How she masters her other challenge -- accepting Mackenzie as a partner even though she seems different -- is beautifully handled. Ellis also does a splendid job of giving young readers insights into the sometimes complex needs of classmates who have diabetes or other health issues. Ellis’s characters feel real, and seeing them as they come of age in this series is delightful. Mismatch has a solid and compelling plot and is well-written and fun to read. Sophie Washington: Mismatch is most highly recommended.

Louanne Piccolo

Sophie Washington: Mismatch by Tonya Duncan Ellis is a chapter book written for children from ages 9 to 12. Sophie is excited to be trying out for her first organized sports team and, if she makes the cut, she’ll be playing tennis with her friends Chloe and Mariama. But her excitement is soon dampened when the coach pairs her with the unpopular Mackenzie with whom she has little in common. To make matters worse, Sophie is teased by the older girls, scolded by the coach and Mackenzie shows no interest in learning the secret handshake Sophie wants to share with her. Desperate to fit in, Sophie makes fun of Mackenzie who has run off the court in the middle of a practice match and suddenly stops turning up for practice. Then something happens at school which makes Sophie realize there are important things she doesn’t know about her new partner. Will Sophie be able to make amends or is their first doubles match doomed?

Tonya Duncan Ellis has written an exciting story that builds in momentum, guiding young readers towards a satisfying ending, while teaching them the value of friendship. Sophie Washington: Mismatch is a character-driven chapter book showing the growth and development of Sophie as she realizes that things are not always as they seem. The book’s characters ring true to young readers as they behave in ways consistent with their age and context. Sophie is kind at heart, Mackenzie is engaging and the rest of the characters are believable and entertaining. Sophie Washington: Mismatch draws readers irresistibly into the story while teaching a valuable life-lesson in the most natural and compelling way – a mark of great children’s fiction.