Two Problems for Sophia: Jim Averbeck & Yasmeen Ismail
October 30, 2018
Book: Two Problems for Sophia
Author: Jim Averbeck
Illustrator: Yasmeen Ismail
Age Range: 4-8
Two Problems for Sophia is the sequel to One Word for Sophia, both picture books written by Jim Averbeck and illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail. In the first book, Sophia worked to convince her four adults (mother, father, uncle, and grandmother) to grant her greatest desire: receipt of a pet giraffe for her birthday. In this new book, Sophia has (spoiler!) brought the giraffe, Noodle, into the family. But if Noodle is going to be able to stay, Sophia has to solve two problems: sloppy giraffe kisses (long tongue) and super-loud giraffe snores (long neck).
Continuing a theme from the first book, Sophia's adults each speak to her differently depending on their situations. For instance, Mother is a judge. So we have:
"Mother rendered her verdict at breakfast.
"Noodle is guilty of robbing this family," she said, "of sleep! I hereby order you to find a perdurable solution to his problems."
In Two Problems for Sophia, Sophia is able to bring in an expert to help: Ms. Canticle, an acoustical engineer. But in the end, Sophia herself comes up with a complex blueprint for an invention to mute the snoring. Supplies needed include:
"Father's briefcase, Mother's gavel, some crepe paper bunting, two rolls of duct tape, Grand-mama's girdle, and a spare flugelhorn from Ms. Canticle."
Super-fun seeing Sophia come up with an engineering solution to her problem. Other nice touches:
- The inside front cover has a detailed list of "Giraffacts" (printed sideways, because the accompanying illustration of a giraffe fits better that way).
- The inside back cover includes a glossary of big words introduced in the story (though most are made clear from context).
- Sophia's family is mixed race (Father and Uncle Conrad are white, Mother and Grand-mama are black, and Sophia and Ms. Canticle have skin in different shades of brown). This requires no direct comment whatsoever - it just is. Bonus that the family members have varying, and strong, occupations.
- There are strong vocabulary words like "chomping" and "perpetual", and interesting phrases to read aloud like "You'd better muzzle that nuzzle."
- Ismail's illustrations are busy and joyful. I especially like the stubble that Uncle Conrad exhibits in the morning, and Grand-mama's grouchy expressions. Despite the over-the-top nature of the story, they also come across as a real family, drinking coffee in the mornings, and dragging when they don't get enough sleep.
In short, Two Problems for Sophia is a welcome addition to a series that I hope will continue to grow in the future. Highly recommended, and a great addition to home or library bookshelves everywhere.
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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