New book: Sophie the Awesome, by Lara Bergen ’90 (Scholastic)

The author: A former children's book editor, Bergen has written many books for kids and tweens, including a number of successful titles in the Candy Apple line. In this first book in a new paperback chapter-book series for children ages 7 to 10, Bergen introduces her young readers to a sweet, spunky third-grade heroine. This is Bergen's first original series. The second book in the series, Sophie the Hero, will be published in July.

The plot: Sophie Miller's life seems average. She's a middle child, lives in a town called Ordinary, has average hair and height, and has finished third in every race she's entered. She isn't the tallest, smartest, or funniest. She isn't even the only "Sophie" in her class. To get over her boring life and become "something that wasn't boring or average at all," she determines to find a new name that conveys how special she really is -- Sophie the Awesome -- and live up to it.

Opening lines: "Sophie closed her book and sighed.

Leo the Lionhearted: Bravest Kid Ever.

It just wasn't fair!

Sophie was sick and tired of reading about other people who were so much more ... more everything than her.

Then it hit her. She knew exactly what she needed.

A name.

Of course! But not just any old name. She had one of those already: Sophie H. Miller. (The H stood for Hamm -- yes, Hamm. Enough said.)

Big deal. So what? Boring.

What Sophie needed was a name that described her perfectly. She needed a name that said it all. A name that was not boring."

Review: A critic for Kidsreads.com wrote: "Young readers will relate to Sophie's quest to be the best at something. Her many unsuccessful attempts at learning what makes her special among her peers are both touching and amusing. ... This simple story of a girl trying to find her place in her universe manages to be sweet without being cloying. Given that the entire plot unfolds over a single school day, there is not much in the way of narrative depth or suspense here, but that doesn't deter from the book's charm."

By Katherine Federici Greenwood

Read about more Princeton authors on The Weekly Blog and view a complete list of works by alumni, faculty, and students at PAW online.