Tonya Duncan Ellis – Secret Santa
About the Author
Tonya Duncan Ellis loves to travel and has visited 49 American states, 20 countries, and three continents, but some of her best journeys have been between the pages of a novel. As a girl she could always be found with a book in her hand, and reading is still one of her favorite hobbies. Tonya is the author of the award winning, Readers’ Favorite “Five Star” rated, Sophie Washington children’s book series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12 and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence, worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer, and is a graduate of Centre College of Kentucky and Washington University in St. Louis. When she’s not reading or writing, the author likes to ride her bike, swim and spend time with her husband and three children. She lives in Houston, TX.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious “Santa” has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington. There is no secret Santa gift exchange going on at her school, so she can’t imagine who it could be. Sophie’s best friends, Chloe, Valentina, and Mariama guess the gift giver is either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie’s class who have liked her in the past, but she’s not so sure. While trying to uncover the mystery, Sophie gets into the holiday spirit, making gingerbread houses with her family, helping to decorate her house, and having a hilarious ice skating party with her friends. Snow comes to Houston for the first time in eight years, and the city feels even more like a winter wonderland. Between the fun, Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she’s opened on Christmas morning. It’s a holiday surprise she’ll never forget!
You’ve Got Mail
“Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg!”
“Be quiet, Cole!” I put my hands over my ears to muffle my brother’s out-of-tune singing and focus back on my laptop to finish my English essay. It’s less than three weeks until winter break and my teachers have been piling on the assignments to make sure we get our end of semester grades in.
There sure is a big change between fifth and sixth grade, workwise, at Xavier Academy, the private school my brother and I go to. Between all the essays and projects and studying for final exams, I feel I can barely take time to pat my dog, Bertram, when I get home; whereas, my eight-year-old brother Cole acts like he’s already on vacation.
Since we got home from school an hour ago, he’s been living it up, shooting hoops in the driveway, eating a snack and now playing on the handheld video game player that my mother would make him put up if she were downstairs with us. I ought to tell on him now…
The doorbell interrupts my thoughts.
“Can you get it, Sophie?” Mom yells from upstairs. “I’m putting some clothes in the closet.”
I would ask her why she wants me to answer the door, and not Cole, but I already know the answer: “Because you’re the oldest.”
Of course, that logic doesn’t hold when it comes to who gets the first dessert or who doesn’t have to do the dishes at night. As the baby of the family and favored child, my little brother has got it made.
I trudge to the front door in time to see the mail carrier heading back to his truck. He’s left a medium-sized box on the porch. Wonder what it is?
My mother sometimes has holiday packages delivered to the house, but Cole and I haven’t made our Christmas lists yet, so I doubt it’s anything for us. I open the door, pick the package up, and check out the label. It’s got my name on it in bright, red ink, “Sophie Washington.”
Who could this be from?
I never get any mail, except for birthday gifts my Granny Washington sends to our house in Houston from Corpus Christi when she can’t be here, and I don’t remember my parents ordering anything for us online. Granny is driving up to see us tomorrow, so I doubt she would mail presents here when she could just bring them with her.
“Mom, I got a package!” I call out.
“What is it?” Cole bounds from the family room to stare at the box as I set it on the kitchen counter.
“Back off, Cole, it’s mine,” I move him to the side with my hip and take a closer look at the delivery. The box is wrapped in brown paper, and there is no return address. It looks difficult to open with my fingers, so I pull a butter knife out of a drawer in the kitchen and slit through the tape on the side. A sweet, sugary scent fills the air.
“Cool!” exclaims Cole in appreciation as the brown wrapping slides off to reveal a box filled with packages of licorice, gummy bears, gum, and red and green M&Ms. I notice a typed note underneath.
Hope your day is super sweet!
Your Secret Santa
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My name is Jordan, I live in Australia and I am mainly a bookstagrammer, but I also try to keep an active profile on GoodReads and have begun my own book blog where I am able to give longer book reviews. I am a huge fan of Young Adult and Sci-fi/Fantasy but have been known to branch out for the right books.