Sophie Washington

Mission Costa Rica

Children - Grade 4th-6th
126 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2018
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Patricia Bell for Readers' Favorite

Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica by Tonya Duncan Ellis is the sixth book in the middle grade series and is about the Washington family’s mission trip to Costa Rica. In this story, Sophie, her family, and her two friends - Chloe and Valentina - have a great time in Costa Rica. While Sophie’s dentist father tends to many native Costa Ricans, who are in great need of his free services, the rest of them help out the locals in other ways. They also encounter many indigenous creatures such as iguanas, tree sloths, snakes, a camera-eating crocodile, as well as a silly monkey that keeps ending up in their hut. They also make friends with a resident girl, taste a variety of local foods, and learn a valuable lesson about being safe.

I loved this story. Serving in the mission field is an awesome opportunity for adults as well as children. The kids learned a valuable lesson on serving others less fortunate. They also had a little fun, a bit of a scare, and a vacation none of them will forget. The characters were fun and loveable. Even Sophie’s pesky little brother, Cole, was a delight. The illustrations in this book were especially engaging and gave a magnificent picture of the story as it unfolded. Even though this is the sixth book in the series, it is easily a stand-alone read as well. I had no problem keeping up with the story. Kudos to Tonya Duncan Ellis for creating a good, wholesome story to entertain and educate the minds of our younger generation. I will recommend Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica to friends with younger children who will enjoy this beautiful series.

Jack Magnus

Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica is an educational adventure book for children, grades 4-6, written by Tonya Duncan Ellis. Sophie and her little brother were thrilled to learn that they would be going to Costa Rica with their mom and dad for spring break. Her dad had volunteered to be part of their church’s efforts to get badly needed medical and dental care to the residents of that country. Sophie’s dad was a dentist, so he’d be doing fillings and providing other necessary dental care. Her parents had also decided to allow Sophie to invite her friends, Chloe and Valentina, to go there with them. Sophie had also invited Mariama; however, she and her family already had plans to go to Disney World during their break. Costa Rica was both exciting and scary. Sophie didn’t like the snakes that she saw slithering around, even if they were friendly, and the monkey who seemed to enjoy visiting Sophie and her friends’ cabin at night was making them lose sleep. Sophie was stunned, however, to see the lines of people waiting to see her dad, and saddened to hear they were suffering for weeks or more without access to dental care. And while she’d rather be lounging every day on the beach instead of doing volunteer work for the mission, when all is said and done, she was very glad to have been a part of this mission.

Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica exposes Sophie, her friends and the reader to a world far removed from the Texas neighborhood she lives in and the school she attends. Her week in Costa Rica is both an adventure and an educational experience as Sophie learns about another culture and sees how her dad’s and her own volunteer work can make a big difference in people’s lives. I loved watching the kids struggle with painting that fence and seeing how their efforts meant so much to the elderly woman who lived there. Ellis also shares the rich ecology and natural history of Costa Rica which Sophie experiences on the jeep tours, zip lines, and, for one scary night, out alone with the jungle. I’ve enjoyed every one of the Sophie Washington books, and this one is no exception. Seeing her grow as a result of this rather different spring break vacation is inspiring indeed. Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica is most highly recommended.

Lesley Jones

In Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica by Tonya Duncan Ellis, prepare to go on a journey of wonder and excitement in the Costa Rican jungle. Sophie and her two best friends join her parents and little brother Cole on a trip far away from their normal surroundings. The girls would much rather be sunbathing on a beach or travelling with their other school friends to Disney World, but instead they are forced to endure the jungle and all the frightening creatures that live there. Sophie endures the horrors of a cheeky monkey in her room, and endless encounters with other jungle animals. When Sophie and her friends get lost in the jungle, without their cell phones, they have to find a way back to safety. There is lots of work to do and, through her exhaustion, she slowly discovers a world of simplicity and a love for the people and surroundings. She meets new friends from different backgrounds and cultures, and by the time she has to leave the island, Costa Rica has a place in her heart.

In Sophie Washington: Mission Costa Rica, the author has cleverly written this excellent adventure story with a strong life lesson woven throughout its pages. When we first meet Sophie, she is totally Westernized and needs all the trappings of makeup and cell phones. We see her slowly open her mind to new cultures and the wonders of nature and animals in the jungle. She begins to appreciate her family after a frightening experience in the jungle with her friends. There is some fantastic dialogue between the three girls, and it's very realistic for their age. The author has made the jungle come to life with brilliant descriptive writing. There are also very funny sections to the book too, especially the encounters with the monkey. Overall, a perfect book for young girls to enjoy.