Happy Birthday, Sophie Hartley

by Stephanie Greene

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547550251
  • ISBN-10: 0547550251
  • Pages: 128
  • Publication Date: 08/01/2011
  • Carton Quantity: 112

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About the Book
About the Author
  • About the Book
    The third novel about indomitable, quirky, passionate Sophie. For her double-digit (tenth) birthday, Sophie wants a baby gorilla and convinces herself and most of her friends that she’s getting one. This birthday has many surprises in store for Sophie—and not just the kind you unwrap.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts


    On the whole, Sophie felt that the conversation about her
    birthday present had gone very well.
     She’d decided to talk to her father about it first. Sophie liked
    talking to him about things. He could be more reasonable than
    her mother. Especially when he was watching TV.
     Especially when he was watching football on TV.
     Sophie checked to make sure he had a soda and a bowl of
    chips before she perched lightly on the arm of the couch next to
    his chair and whispered, “Dad?”
     She knew from experience that it was a good idea to whisper
    her requests. When she whispered, he didn’t always answer
    “What’d your mother say?” the way he did at other times.
     “Dad?” she whispered again.
     Mr. Hartley leaned his head toward her ever so slightly, keeping
    his eyes fixed firmly on the screen, and said, “Hmm?”
     “You know how I always ask for a dog or a cat for my birthday?”
    Sophie whispered.
     “Hmm?”Mr. Hartley said again. Then he suddenly leaped
    to his feet, shouted “Go! Go! What are you waiting for, you cowards?”
    and shook his fist at the TV.
     Sophie waited patiently until he settled into his chair again
    and took a swig of his soda before she went on. “I don’t want one
    this year,” she said. “I want a baby gorilla.”
     If she absolutely had to, she was prepared to add, “It could
    Be my birthday present and my Christmas present.”
     Luckily, she didn’t have to make such a rash promise. Mr.
    Hartley gave a little start, as if Sophie had woken him up from a
    deep sleep, and cried, “What? Oh, Sophie! Wonderful! Run and
    get me some more chips, there’s a good girl,” absently patting
    her knee as he turned back to the TV.
     Sophie hopped up to get the chips. “Wonderful!” he’d said.
    Her father hardly ever said “Wonderful!” about anything. It was
    as good as a “Yes” in her book.

    It took a bit of practice, but she finally did it.
     Hunched over the piece of paper on the floor of the family
    room, holding her pencil between her big toe and the one next
    to it, Sophie wrote her name in spidery letters with her foot. Her
    foot kept cramping from the effort, and she had to stop and
    massage it several times before she could go on.
     It was a good thing gorillas had short names, like Kiki. They
    were easier to write.
     Sophie had fallen in love with gorillas after watching a program
    on TV about a baby gorilla that was being raised by
    people in a zoo. It wore diapers and drank from a bottle like a
    real baby. Sophie thought it looked like a real baby, except
    much cuter.
     She had promptly taken out all the gorilla books she could
    find from the school’s media center. She especially liked the one
    about the woman who’d moved to Africa to live with gorillas
    and had died trying to protect them.
     Passionate, the book called the woman. Sophie loved that
    word. Deep in her heart she knew she was passionate. She
    would be willing to die to protect something she loved, too. Of
    course, she didn’t want to have to do it until she was really old,
    and she didn’t want it to hurt.
     But she was definitely passionate.
     Another book said gorillas had brains like people and were
    very smart. At one zoo, a scientist named Dr. Pimm was teaching
    a baby gorilla how to communicate using sign language.
     Because Sophie didn’t know sign language, and because all
    these animals seemed to do so many things with their feet, she
    decided to teach herself how to write with her feet, so she could
    communicate with her gorilla when she got it.
     The idea was a little confusing, even to Sophie, but she kept
    at it. Her mother wouldn’t be able to resist when Sophie told her
    that gorillas didn’t scratch furniture or dig holes, and that
    Sophie was going to be able to write notes to her gorilla telling it
    what not to do.
     She was about to dot the i in her name when two arms
    wrapped themselves around her neck and a high-pitched voice
    demanded, “Wide! Wide!”
     “Not now, Maura,” Sophie said. She grabbed her baby
    sister’s hands and tried to pry them from around her neck.
    Maura promptly lifted her feet off the ground, dangling her
    entire sixteen-month-old body weight down Sophie’s back.
    It was Maura’s newest trick, and very effective. Sophie could
    barely breathe.
     “Maura, no!” she cried, wrenching her sister’s hands apart
    and dumping her on her bottom. Maura wailed and kicked her
    heels against the floor.
     Sophie ignored her.
    It was the only thing to do when Maura had a temper
    tantrum. She had them a lot these days. Mrs. Hartley said it was
    because Maura was going through the “terrible twos.”
     “What do you mean?” Sophie had said. “She’s only sixteen
     “Well then, she’s ahead of herself,” her mother said. “Gifted.
    All of my children are gifted.”
     Sophie personally thought Maura was spoiled. She’d refused
    To walk for the longest time because so many people in the family
    were willing to carry her. When Mrs. Hartley made them
    stop, Maura had started staggering around the house, pulling
    magazines off tables and books from bookshelves.
     Nothing was safe from her grasping hands: pots and pans,
    dishes on the table, toilet paper, which she delighted in unrolling
    until all that was left was the cardboard tube. All Mrs. Hartley
    ever did was say “No, Maura” in a lot nicer voice than she used
    with everyone else in the family.
     For Sophie, the final straw had come the week before. When
    Maura walked across one of Sophie’s wet paintings in her bare
    feet, Mrs. Hartley had made it sound as if it were Sophie’s fault.
     “For heaven’s sake, work at the kitchen table!” her mother
    said as she sat Maura on the edge of the sink and held her red,
    blue, and green feet under the tap.
     “But I always paint lying on the floor,” Sophie protested. “I
    think better when I’m on my stomach.”
     “Well, you’ll just have to think sitting up until Maura’s older,”
    Her mother said. “Honestly, Sophie, use your head.”
     Sophie was insulted. She went straight up to her room and
    drew a picture of a baby with a red face, a huge circle for a
    mouth, a few teeth, and waterfalls of tears gushing out of both
    eyes. She wrote DANGER: FLOOD ZONE under it and taped it to
    Maura’s bedroom door.
     She also decided that since it was obvious her mother wasn’t
    going to teach Maura any manners, she’d have to do it herself.
     Lesson number one would be patience.
     “You can’t have everything you want, the minute you want
    it,” Sophie said, crouching over her paper again. “I’ll give you a
    piggyback ride when I’m finished.”
     Maura stopped kicking the floor and started kicking
    Sophie’s back instead. Sophie scooted sideways on her bottom
    until she was out of Maura’s reach and, using her best teacher-like
    voice, said, “I’m not going to play with you until you learn
     “Patience? Who’re you kidding?” Sophie’s ...

  • Reviews
    "Girls undergoing the same growing-up trials will be happy to have Sophie make them laugh."--Kirkus Reviews

    "A lively chapter book full of humor, believable family dynamics, and characters who think and talk like real people. . . . Greene explores her themes of identity, ambivalence about growing up, and friendship with an unusual naturalness and depth, yet the themes never trump story or character."--The Horn Book, starred review

    "[Readers will] want to unwrap this gem of a story and savor the delicious conclusions."--School Library Journal