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Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sophie Hartley. Written by Stephanie Greene. Clarion, T Allen, 2010. $19.95 ages 8 and up

"Sophie was mentally probing her heart to see if it was broken. Nope. It was in one relieved piece. She felt on a tiny, minuscule bit sad she wasn't getting a gorilla.
Her passion was gone. She might try living without it for a while. It felt so relaxing."

Sophie knows when to ask the question that is foremost in her mind. Her first double digit birthday is coming up, and she wants a baby is her passion. So, she waits for a football game on television and poses the question while her Dad is watching. She's sure she heard him say 'yes' to her request. Next up, her mother! That's a very different story, and Sophie will have to find the perfect time to approach the subject of a pet...she's been wanting one her whole life and her mother always has many good reasons for her quick and firm 'NO!'

If you have not met Sophie in her previous tales, Queen Sophie Hartley (Clarion, 2005) and Sophie Hartley on Strike (Clarion, 2006), you have a treat in store. In this third book about the feisty and free-spirited young girl, she is approaching ten, with all the passion that she has faced other grand times in her life. She lets it slip at school that she is going to get a baby gorilla for her birthday.

Her friends are delighted; some are skeptical...Destiny, for sure. Destiny also manages to make Jenna wonder if Sophie is telling the truth. Caught up in her fantasy, Sophie agonizes over talking with her mother about the gift. Before they have a chance to deal with the whole truth, Sophie receives a letter from the zoo telling her that gorillas can no longer be bought, as they are endangered. It is suggested that she might want to adopt a gorilla...something for Sophie to consider.

It is a time of change for Sophie. Her big sister Nora has decided that she needs a room of her own, for privacy. Sophie is left with a big empty room, few ideas and less incentive to make it her own. Nobody seems to be remembering that her birthday is an important one and coming SOON. One of her friends is more enamored of her lacrosse team and teammates than she is her 'true' best friends. A boy at school shares his interest in gorillas with her, causing some teasing and much anxiety for Sophie.

Will the family remember her birthday? Of course, they will. And, her friends Alice and Jenna prove to be the 'best', indeed! Rife with humor, uncontrolled giggles, family drama, witty dialogue and authentic characters, this is a story that will enjoyed by many and is highly recommended. Check it out!

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