February 21, 2013
Sophie Simon Solves Them All by Lisa Graff, illustrations by Jason Beene
Sophie Simon Solves Them All
by Lisa Graff,
illustrations by Jason Beene
Farrar Straus Giroux
Sophie Simon is a third grader who would rather read calculus than watch television. Her parents wish she was well-adjusted and that she has a few really good friends. Maybe they really aren’t her parents after all. Wouldn’t her own parents “get” what is important to her. Unfortunately, she looks too much like her father for Sophie to hope that a nice, brilliant family is out looking for their long lost child.
Things get even more awkward when she asks for a graphing calculator. After all, there’s no way she can study calculus without one. Her parents, not surprisingly, refuse. After all, they just don’t get it.
One day, Owen Luu sits down next to Sophie on the bus. She knows who he is, she is a genius, but she doesn’t understand why he keeps talking to her. It has something to do with his upcoming birthday and a rabbit. Apparently, Owen really wants a rabbit. His mother has bigger plans, wild, exotic plans. Owen is certain that Sophie could find a way to solve his problem.
For her part, Sophie doesn’t get why she should care. She’s sure she could find a way to use psychology to get Own that rabbit, but she’d rather use it to get that calculator. The Owen mentions his birthday money. It isn’t enough for the calculator but he will give it all to Sophie if she will just help him out.
Soon Sophie finds herself solving problems for not only Owen but also Daisy Pete who, more than anything, wants to avoid the humiliation of her ballet recital and Julia McGreevy who wants to be a famous journalist. Unfortunately, Daisy’s parents think that ballet will help their accident prone daughter and Julia’s father is a mathematics professor who can think of nothing else. Both of these girls agrees to pay Sophie for helping them out. Can she do it?
Readers may have a bit more trouble identifying with Sophie since, presumably, anyone reading this book is not going to also be studying calculus. What they will get is the feeling that each of these children has that certainly these clueless adults are not actually there parents. I suspect this is something all tween and teens contemplate at some time — my sister and I were convinced that we belonged to some distant Kennedy cousins.
Readers will also love the idea of using civil disobedience to unveil I vile teacher as well as psychology to get the grown ups in line.
Give this one to the young reader in your life. Maybe you actually have the guts to read it together and have a laugh at just how clueless an adult can be.