Seven-year-old Maddie Reyes can talk to Mom, Dad, and 14-year-old Sadina, her sister and protector. But with the rest of the world — except for Bella, her robotic cat — she’s too terrified to speak a word. Maddie wakes one night to find an intruder in the house, and now she’s the only one who can identify him and save Mom from being arrested. Sadina suspects her best friend, Rio — especially now that Rio has started paying attention to another girl. With Mom in trouble and Rio acting like a stranger, Sadina’s world is collapsing. And that’s when her friends join together to help transform Bella into Chattercat, a talking robot that just might get some answers from Maddie.
Filled with beautiful watercolor illustrations, this captivating mystery, geared toward readers in grades 4 to 8, covers a range of important issues: friendship, teamwork, trust, making hard choices, and continuing to pursue goals, even in the face of overwhelming odds. With its key plot device involving artificial intelligence, the story contributes to student interest in STEM fields.
Tumblehome Learning has taken over the publishing rights to “Talk to Me” from FastPencil/Wavecrest Books, and is now on its second edition. For a limited time only, first edition books may still be purchased here.
JUVENILE FICTION, AGES 9-12
152 PAGES, 6 X 9″
PRICING: $9.95 (US $9.95) (CA $11.95)
PUBLICATION DATE: DECEMBER 2016
Sonia Ellis is a children’s book author and former engineer living in western Massachusetts. TALK TO ME is her first book. If you would like to get to know me better, please read on.
Q&A With Sonia
Who’s your favorite character in Talk to Me?
“That’s a tough one. Catalina was fun to write—all that sarcasm! But I think Monica is my favorite. She’s me as a little kid, when I was very much about sitting in the front row of the classroom and always coloring inside the lines.”
Have you ever had other jobs, besides being a writer?
“I started out as an engineer. My family is full of engineers who have done amazingly different things: making people safer during earthquakes, figuring out how to keep mosquitos from spreading disease, and helping to make better gas masks. Engineering is not just about building bridges—although there’s an engineer in the family who did that too!”
Why did you write Talk to Me?
“The book is meant to be enjoyed, all on its own, as a story about a girl who figures out how to face the troubles in her world—by drawing on her own hidden strengths, as well as pulling together with her friends. At the same time, the things Sadina has to face—deciding whether to tell on a best friend who might be a thief, figuring out how a robot could communicate with her sister—all relate to the very real lives of engineers, who actually face the same sorts of problems that kids do. So I hope readers begin to see that engineering is something they can do too.
“The story is also tied to a much bigger world that you can be a part of at www.throughmywindow.org. Please check it out to join Sadina and her friends in more adventures!”
What’s the first story you ever wrote?
“The first story I remember writing was when I was 11 years old. It was about a girl named Laura who gets two cocker spaniel puppies as a Christmas present (that was a hint to my parents…). Laura trains the puppies to do incredible tricks and they end up joining the circus.”
Do you have a secret super power?
“Funny you should ask…My neighbors once had a donkey that got loose—I saw him jump the fence from my kitchen window. So I ran around the house looking for things you could use to catch donkeys. I came up with carrots and a dog leash. It worked—I caught him! So that’s my super power—catching runaway donkeys. I imagine I’ll get calls from all over the world now, from people who need my help.”
What makes you laugh?
“When my dogs make funny faces.”
What hobbies do you have?
“I read all the time. I like taking pictures of things that tend to get overlooked. I love playing music and singing—I think each moment of life should have a soundtrack.”