YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN ME
Sophie and Chloe have been best friends since they met in kindergarten. They get along like chips and salsa and do everything together from playing tennis to cheering on the school cheer squad. Lately, Chloe’s been leaving Sophie out, and she doesn’t know why. Sophie does everything she can to make her best friend happy, but it’s not working. Then Chloe asks Sophie to fib to a teacher to help her out and she learns the true meaning of friendship.
Targeted Age Group:: 8-12
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Sophie Washington: BFF is the tenth book in my illustrated chapter series, which stars a sweet and sassy tween from Houston and her diverse group of friends. This book focuses on friendship and fitting in, a common issue with children in this age range.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Though fictional, Sophie Washington series characters are inspired by antics from my children, their friends and other youth I've interacted with over the years.
My mom says a good way to finish something I hate doing, like eating Brussels sprouts, is to get on with it, and count backward from ten until I’m done. I tried it last week after she made me apologize for calling my brother Nugget Head. It was a teensy bit easier.
But what’s happening right now is so terrible that I silently count down all the way from one hundred, and squeeze my eyes shut.
“Ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven, ninety-six…”
“Isn’t this great, Sophie?!” Chloe interrupts my thoughts and grabs my hand as the attendant snaps us in our seats. “It’s so pretty up here. Look down!”
I peek open one eye and spy huge waves splashing under us as our cart creaks up the track. Brightly colored umbrellas dot the sand below like Skittles, and I suck in the warm sea breeze to calm myself. I can’t believe I let my best friend convince me to get on the Killer Whale, the biggest roller coaster at Pleasure Pier.
Our science class is on a day trip to Galveston Bay, about an hour from Houston, where we live. We spent the morning looking at turtles, shells, and crabs on the beach. Our visit to the amusement park is an extra “treat.”
“This is going to be epic!” shouts Chloe, as we inch higher up the hill. She raises both arms in the air. I grip the handle on the roller coaster seat so tightly my knuckles are sore. Sea gulls fly above us through cottony clouds, without a care in the world. If only I could be so calm. I’m wet-your-pants scared right now.
“Have the Time of Your Life,” says a sign outside the entrance, with palm trees on either side. Yeah, right.
The only reason I’m not at the carnival games is because I want to spend time with my BFF, Chloe. We’ve been friends since we shared a swing in kindergarten, and we do everything together, like cheer for our school and play on the tennis team. She’s taller and noisier than I am, but somehow, we belong together, like chips and salsa.
Chloe isn’t in any of my classes this year. During free periods she gets special tutoring for her dyslexia. Don’t ask me what dyslexia means exactly, but she’s not so great at spelling and takes twice as long as the rest of us to do her school work.
Chloe’s been talking about riding the Killer Whale since we were too short to be allowed on roller coasters. I’d do anything for my best friend, and I didn’t want to look like a chicken, so I faced my fear.
Looking back, I still can’t believe I got in line when Chloe begged. The Killer Whale is a perfect name for that ride. Carts race up and down the grayish blue rails like they’re on a speed track, and then drop down huge hills.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Toby, the cutest boy in the sixth grade, stood in front of us in line with his mouth open. “Forget about the baby rides; I want to ride this one the whole time we’re here.”
“This is so cool!” Nathan, Toby’s buddy for the field trip, gave him a high five. “and since there are two tracks, we shouldn’t have to wait long to get on.”
The crowded line came to a standstill and we continued to talk.
“Hey, Sophie, did you start that poetry assignment for English class?” Toby edged around Chloe. “Can you help me with it at school tomorrow? I need to get an A or B to raise my grade.”
“You read the poem yet?” said Nathan, pausing the video game he was playing on his phone and also looking my way. “I can’t figure it out.”
“Why didn’t you ask me what I think about the poem?” asked Chloe with a frown.
“Well, ah, I didn’t think you were doing the same work,” said Toby.
Her lips curled, and I braced myself.
Chloe is super sweet most of the time, but act like she’s not as smart as someone else, and she changes from cuddly kitten to ferocious tiger.
“As a matter of fact, I am doing the same work,” she said, wrapping her arms around her chest. “Just because I go to a tutor sometimes doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on. I still have the same English assignments as you guys.”
“I don’t think he meant that, Chloe,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah, everybody knows you’re the spelling champion, while I’m the sixth-grade dummy,” said Chloe.
“Now wait a minute…” I said.
My braids were blown back by the air from a roller coaster cart. The line started to move again, and Valentina, another of our good friends, pulled out her cell phone. “Get closer, guys, I want to get picture of us in front of the Killer Whale.”
We all leaned in. Chloe, who looks like a tween model, shook her shiny black curls and flashed a bright smile for the camera. I hoped my two braids weren’t sticking up.
“Let me see.” Valentina’s field trip partner, Mariama, peered down at the picture, and giggled. “Your eyes are all bugged out, Sophie!”
“OMG!” Chloe put her hand over her mouth to hold in her laugh.
I grabbed for the phone. “Delete that, Valentina!”
“No problemo, I’ll take another one,” she said.
The people in back pushed us, so we had to go forward.
“Come on, y’all! The line’s moving.” Chloe eased us closer to the Killer Whale, and I forgot about the embarrassing picture.
I wanted to ride the Killer Whale as much as a fish wants to be hooked on a line. A couple of months ago, I threw up at the top of a giant slide at a school festival. But I didn’t want to look like a scaredy-cat in front of Chloe and my other friends.
Now I’m strapped into this lunchbox on wheels with no way out. We move faster, and I begin to count again.
“Ninety-five, ninety-four, ninety-three, ninety-two…”
“Here we go!”
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