Sophie is Seven (by Dick King-Smith)

I've enjoyed many books by the late Dick King-Smith since I first discovered them when my sons were little, twenty odd years ago. In many of them, his characters are anthropomorphic animals, but my favourite of his books are the series of six about Sophie, the small but determined girl who wants to be a 'lady farmer' when she grows up.

'Sophie is Seven' is fifth in the 'Sophie' series; a little confusingly she is six for the majority of the book, and only attains her seventh birthday in the final chapters. I have just finished reading this book to a six-year-old friend, who enjoyed it very much, as did I.

In this book, Sophie tries to start serious fund-raising for her future farm. She gets quite the wrong idea about doing a sponsored walk and becomes rather wet in the process. We also follow her at school where she tries to make her teacher better informed when the class topic is 'farming', goes on a field trip, stars unexpectedly in a school play... and eventually, due to the generosity of her great-great-aunt Al, she starts riding lessons.

The characterisation in these books is wonderful, with Sophie being easy to relate to, and very likeable. She has strong moral principles, although she is rather scathing about people she considers to be wimpy. Her twin brothers tease her but are fond of her deep down, and her parents must sometimes wonder just how they produced such a unique and intriguing small person....

Best read after the other Sophie books (the first three of which are contained in the omnibus Sophie's Adventures, and the fourth is 'Sophie in the Saddle'). However, this stands alone too and could be read by itself.

I would recommend this for any children from the age of about five upwards. Independent readers would not find it particularly difficult, but there is sufficient humour and irony that it makes an extremely enjoyable book to read aloud.

Note that while this book is not currently in print by itself, there is an omnibus edition, 'Sophie's Further Adventures', which includes this along with two other books.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 29th November 2011

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