- Sophie Hartley and the Facts of Life by Stephanie Greene
Sophie (of Queen Sophie Hartley, BCCB 4/05, etc.) feels no hurry to get any older, preferring the simplicity of life as a ten-year-old to the harrowing hair days and hormonal instability experienced by her teenaged brother and sister. Unfortunately, her fourth-grade class has gotten wind of a video that they’ll watch the next year, and now the girls at school only want to talk about bodies, specifically changing bodies. When Sophie inadvertently reveals that she has access to her sister’s book about puberty, Sophie’s friends volunteer her to lead a meeting on the subject. To [End Page 212] make matters worse, her mom is out of town on business, leaving Sophie no choice but to ask help from her sister, who hasn’t had a nice word for anyone in the family since becoming teenager. Thank goodness for the new yoga section of P.E. class, where Sophie can make peace with her soon-to-be-changing body—and thus her soon-to-be-changing life. In this latest addition to this thoughtful and charming series, Greene paints a convincing picture of the last breath of childhood with sensitivity and humor. She also captures the dynamics of a large family, with middlechild Sophie witnessing the trials and tribulations of older siblings and celebrating the successes of much younger ones. The pacing is purposeful but not plodding, and characterizations of individuals and dynamics—such as Sophie’s friend who’s tempted to follow the class queen bee—ring true. Like the early volumes of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice series, this sweet and sincere story will resonate with preteens who accept their future but certainly don’t wish to hasten it.