Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

One Word from Sophia

by Jim Averbeck

illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail


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One Word from Sophia

by Jim Averbeck
illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail

Review posted July 31, 2015.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2015. 36 pages.
Starred Review
2015 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #12 Picture Books

This book is tremendously fun. The beginning concisely sums up the situation:

Sophia’s birthday was coming up, and she had five things on her mind –
One True Desire and four problems.

Her One True Desire was to get a pet giraffe for her birthday.

The four problems were . . .
Mother, who was a judge,
Father, who was a businessman,
Uncle Conrad, who was a politician,
and Grand-mamá, who was very strict.

Sophia presents her case eloquently to each of these adults, with her arguments perfectly and amusingly tailored to her audiences.

Her mother says she’s too verbose, her father that she’s too effusive, her uncle that she’s too loquacious, and Grand-mamá that she needs to get to the point.

So Sophia thinks hard and gets her case down to one word, “accompanied by a particularly compelling pair of eyes.”

Now, I expected this book to be an example of how, sometimes, you simply can’t get the things you want. Umm, this is not that book.

Also, kids won’t necessarily get the court references when Sophia makes her case to her mother the judge or the business proposal references in her presentation to her father the businessman or the polling references in the results shown to her uncle the politician. However, those are what makes the book tremendous fun for an adult reading it. And I think kids will enjoy the sounds of the words, even if they don’t grasp all the humorous implications.

And I’m not completely confident that we really should give little negotiators any ideas for how to work. They’re awfully good at what they do already. And if Sophia can con her family into getting her a giraffe? Well, clearly your own little negotiator is much more reasonable. Should we give that ground to them?

But this book is simply way too much fun not to recommend it, so I will be content with warning potential adult readers. In general, I suspect that the enjoyment you get from reading this book will outweigh any drawbacks from ideas your children pick up. (As if they actually need any.) And, best of all, they may remember to say Please!

I should add that the pictures are delightful – portraying a mixed-race family with lovely vibrant colors. And just the right amount of words.

May we all know our One True Desire as clearly as Sophia.