Sophie Simon Solves Them All by Lisa Graff is accessible to a slightly younger audience than her usual work. When I started the book I thought it was trying to make fun of the fact that parents and teachers sometimes go overboard with their children in terms of activities, getting them into certain schools and activities, etc. I am pleased to say that is not the case with the story as a whole.
At times it tries a little too hard to be flippant or clever. This results in a condescending tone for adult readers and a confusing one for kids. This seems most prevalent in the beginning chapters, and seems to recede once the story begins to center around Sophie and the other “kid” characters.
The story is tightly plotted and full of fun. It has a nice dose of silliness and some slapstick episodes–which I, personally, LOVE when they are well done–and these ARE. Sophie’s character demonstrates some interesting growth and insight over the course of the narrative. It offers up some reflections and ideas regarding the age-old “don’t judge a book by its cover” theme from a fresh angle.
To me it has the feel of a traditional allegory mixed with Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books–if Ramona was a child genius. This is a great read-aloud candidate that most kids probably haven’t already read. I used it in a 3rd grade clss and they loved it!!