The Gamer

Children - Grade 4th-6th
102 Pages
Reviewed on 11/22/2017
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Author Biography

Tonya Ellis is an award-winning author of the Sophie Washington book series: Queen of the Bee, The Snitch, Things You Didn’t Know About Sophie, and The Gamer. She also writes feature articles for family magazines. Growing up, her favorite video game was Ms. Pac-Man. Tonya lives with her husband, Keith, and three children, Sophia, Byron and Justin, in Houston, TX.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Gamer: Sophie Washington is a novel for children, grades 4-6, written by Tonya Duncan Ellis. Sophie’s in sixth grade now, and she’s beginning to understand more of what the pastor is preaching in church on Sundays. Today’s sermon was on resisting the temptation to indulge in things that might not be so good for us. That message was particularly on point as the Lenten season was swiftly approaching. As she, her parents and her little brother, Cole, were driving home from service, her dad asked Sophie and Cole if they had considered what they would be giving up for Lent. Cole, who normally got his way with everything as far as Sophie was concerned, was told that he should give up his video games. Sophie was given an even more difficult challenge. Would they be able to keep those commitments until Easter Sunday?

Tonya Duncan Ellis’s novel for children, grades 4-6, The Gamer: Sophie Washington, finds Sophie, who is a sixth grader now, having to reconcile her feelings of envy and jealousy regarding the relationships of her friends in school and trying not to constantly complain about and tattle on her little brother. There are a number of high points in this engaging book including the arrival of a new member of Sophie’s household, Bertram, the Portuguese Water Dog, and the further development of Cole’s artistic talents. While, as a gamer, I was sympathetic to Cole’s plight in being denied all access during the Lenten season, the story had me wondering just how much I might be missing during those hours I play. While this is not the first book in Ellis’s Sophie Washington series, it can be read on its own; however I would strongly advise that each volume of this compelling and intelligent series be read in order. The Gamer: Sophie Washington is most highly recommended.

Maria Beltran

The Gamer by Tonya Duncan Ellis is the fourth book in a series that tells about the adventures of sixth grader Sophie, her friends and family. Sophie has a younger brother, Cole, who is in second grade. It is Lent season and they have been encouraged by their parents to give up something that they really like for forty days, that is, until Easter Day. For Sophie, it is snitching on her brother while for Cole, it is giving up his video games. Meantime, something happens in school that makes Sophie feel bad while Cole does something behind his parents' backs. Can they really give up something that seems to feel like second nature to both of them already?

Tonya Duncan Ellis' The Gamer is designed for grade school children, but surprisingly, adults can learn a thing or two from this book too. The author writes at a fluid pace that will surely keep her readers interested. And as we follow Sophie and Cole in their daily lives, it is not difficult to relate to them. Indeed, for most of us who grow up with a sister or brother, the story is quite familiar. But what makes it special is that it teaches us about the importance of finding balance in our lives, without sounding preachy. As such, we can look forward to the next events in Sophie's life, and expect to pick up life's lessons along the way. Tonya Duncan Ellis is obviously a keen observer and reading her book is both an informative and a delightful experience.

Ann Neville

The Gamer by Tonya Duncan Ellis is written from the point of view of sixth grader Sophie Washington. It's almost Easter, and Sophie and her family get ready for Lent by giving up something that may not be good for them for 40 days. Her parents urge Sophie to stop tattling so much, and encourage her second grade brother, Cole, to give up the thing he loves most - playing video games. Soon after Lent begins, Cole starts sneaking quick sessions on his video games. Things start to get out of control when he loses a school electronic tablet he checked out without his parents' permission, and comes to his sister for help. What a dilemma! Should Sophie break her Lent promise and tattle on him?

The Gamer gives an interesting peek into the lives of Sophie, her family and friends. Her voice is authentic and, through her, Tonya Duncan Ellis touches on some of the usual modern-day conflicts between siblings and peer groups, particularly girls' interactions regarding boys and clothes. Sophie's choice (as to whether or not to tattle on Cole) is a quandary most of us have probably faced at some time or another - how can we decide what the physical and mental consequences of breaking, or not breaking, a promise are and how our decision will impact on others around us? The text is enhanced by well executed line drawings that add some extra context and sometimes humour to the book. I particularly liked the one of Sophie's brother Cole in church! The Gamer by Tonya Duncan Ellis provides a quick and easy read for sixth graders, imparting a moral message without appearing too didactic.