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The Picture Book Buzz

Sophie Washington: Mismatch - Multicultural Book Day #ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. I've participated for the past three years and have had the privilege to read: Nadia Knox and the Eye of Zinnia; Sister Girl and the Training Wheels; Katie Woo, We Love You! ; and I Am Not A Number.

This year, I am reviewing a middle grade book that is the latest in a series, Sophie Washington: Mismatch.

Sophie Washington: Mismatch

Author: Tonya Duncan Ellis

Publisher: Page Turner Publishing (2019)

Ages: 8-10



Friendship, diversity, tennis, competition, and childhood illness.


Watch out Venus and Serena, Sophie Washington just joined the tennis team, and she's on her way to becoming queen of the court!

That is until her coach matches her with class oddball, Mackenzie Clark, and the drama really begins...

Mackenzie refuses to talk to Sophie or learn the secret handshake she made up. Sophie just can't figure her out. Then Mackenzie starts skipping practice, and gets sick at school, and Sophie realizes that there's more to her doubles partner than meets the eye. Can Sophie make things right with Mackenzie before their first big game, or is their partnership a complete mismatch?

Opening lines:

I'm trying out for the tennis team with my friends, and I feel like I'm on my way to get a flu shot. This is my first time playing on an actual sports team, and I'm as jittery as a bucking bronco before the rodeo.

What I like about the book:

This is the ninth book in the Sophie Washington series. In these books, Tonya Ellis "recounts the adventures of a precocious African American preteen from Houston, TX and her diverse group of friends."

Though at times oversaturated with cultural references (kid's television shows, movies, books, and food), that run the risk of becoming dated, this book does a good job of examining the social interactions of middle school girls. Set within the context of a tennis team, it explores the dynamics of four sixth graders girls (and a few friends who frequent the sidelines) - as they learn the ropes of the tennis team and figure out how to interact with each other and the eighth-grade girls.

After everything goes wrong with tennis try-outs, including being teamed up with an outsider, Sophie throws herself into learning the game (practicing on weekends with her father) and trying to fit in with the older girls. But when fitting in, means hurting others, Sophie has second doubts about the team. Especially, when her partner, Mackenzie, ends up escorted to the nurse's office during practice. Ultimately, Sophie learns how to win her partner's trust and make all the girls feel like a team.

Overall, the cast is diverse, the issues feel real, and the solution is believable. It would be an easy read for this age group, with each short chapter containing a full-page pencil illustration. Additionally, the book explores the issue of childhood diabetes and proper eating habits. It includes a definition of tennis terms and three healthy, kid-friendly snacks.


- try playing a game of tennis, as a single and as a doubles player;

- experiment making the healthy snacks included at the end of the book;

- create a story or draw a picture based on a time you felt excluded;

- write a list or draw a diagram of ways you could help someone being excluded or bullied; or

- read Rising Above: How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars by Gregory Zuckerman.

[Note: I received this book to review for the event.]

MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum





Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove, Lauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series, and Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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