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Mission 1: All in a Day's Work: Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers, #1
Mission 1: All in a Day's Work: Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers, #1
Mission 1: All in a Day's Work: Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers, #1
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Mission 1: All in a Day's Work: Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers, #1

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        Life's full of adventure! Right? Sophia thinks so. Especially when you are telepathic and speak multiple animal languages!

        Being brilliant ten-year-olds in a competitive eighth-grade honors class is a minute-by-minute challenge. Outside school even more challenges abound. When Jack the Polar Bear's regular zoo keeper is the victim of a mysterious hit-and-run accident, Super Sleuths Sophia and Pedro find themselves investigating his replacement. A replacement whom Jack and the seals fear and distrust. 

        Their investigation uncovers a plot by Russian poachers to abduct Jack. Never have the stakes been higher. Instead of battling middle-school snobs and bullies, they now find themselves in the crosshairs of the Russian mob.

PublisherSusan Stoderl
Release dateNov 10, 2022
Mission 1: All in a Day's Work: Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers, #1
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Susan Stoderl

Susan Stoderl is a new indie author of a children’s middle-grade detective series entitled Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers, for ages eight to twelve years old. The first book of the series is Mission 1: All’s in a Day’s Work. The second book, Mission 2: Unexpected Visitors, will debut early in 2023. My blog, “Scribbles & Thoughts” at http://www.susanstoderl.net addresses my work as a writer, and self-publisher, and what inspires my writing.

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    Mission 1 - Susan Stoderl

    Chapter 1

    A New Beginning

    Nana’s memorial service (arranged by Sophia MacGregor, Life Celebration Planner Extraordinaire) was over. Sophia noticed that even sorrow didn’t stop her editorializing in parentheticals, her silent qualifiers of spoken words. She sat in apartment 4B with her best friend, Pedro Gonzalez. Everything was so familiar until she thought of Nana’s absence. In a rare moment of panic, Sophia came close to sobbing.

    What if the school finds out I live here alone and calls New York City Child Protective Services?

    Mr. O’D won’t let ’em, or me either. They’ll never find out about either of us, said Pedro.

    Sophia’s grandmother had chosen Sean O’Donoghue, her best friend, to care for Sophia when she passed. Sean had known Sophia ever since she came to be raised by her grandmother as a baby. Sophia now lived alone in apartment 4B and Mr. O’D in apartment 4A. Pedro lived in the next building, where he was alone for most of the week. His parents worked as live-in staff members for a wealthy family on Long Island. Monday morning through Friday evening, Mr. Gonzalez tended the grounds and did general handiwork, while Mrs. Gonzalez cooked and cleaned. Their only time with their son was from late Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, when they returned to work on Long Island.

    Sophia and Pedro were outsiders at the fashionable James Samuel Calder Academy on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Each formed their own small minority. Pedro was a scholarship student and Hispanic. Sophia was outspokenly individual and feminist, whereas her classmates were devotees of Teen Vogue and the New York Times society pages. The fashionistas thought Sophia’s unruly, curly red hair and high-top red sneakers with striped laces a scandal. Sophia and Pedro’s popularity was further damaged because at their age—almost eleven—they were both at the top of their eighth grade Honors Class.

    Mr. O’Donoghue, Sophia’s guardian, let himself in the door and took a seat on the sofa next to Sophia. He knew today had been difficult for the girl, though she tried not to show it. Mr. O’D encircled her shoulders with his arm and tried to pull her closer. At first, Sophia squirmed out of the hug, but then she relented. (I’m much too old to cuddle, but it’ll make Mr. O’D feel better.)

    Nana and I planned for this day early on. Mr. O’D’s voice had a slight catch. We led the school to believe that I’m your grandfather.

    See, said Pedro, Mr. O’D will take care of everything. Nobody’s gonna call Child Services on us.

    Look at me! said Mr. O’D. I became an orphan when I was your age and I grew up just fine. Why should it be any different now?

    That was eons ago, and in Ireland, not New York City. It’s not the same.

    Mr. O’D thumped Pedro on the head with his thumb and forefinger. You think so, do ye? Nana ensured that Sophia’s high school and college tuition was secure since both of us were already fairly old when you came to us.

    How did she do that? asked Sophia.

    When your parents died in the car wreck, you became the beneficiary of a substantial sum of money from the insurance company.

    She showed me. It’s in her mattress and under several floorboards. An errant tear escaped from Sophia’s eye.

    I also keep some of it in my apartment. Mr. O’D wiped away the tear with a gnarled thumb.

    Are you sure? My cookie jar money runs out all the time.

    Mr. O’D ruffled Pedro’s thick black hair. Don’t worry, Pedro, it won’t run out. Don’t worry about your cookie jar either. Sophia always cooks enough for ten.

    Zelda Screech Cat cut short the group hug with one of her signature screeches. It was time to eat. Food, water, and a clean litter box were on top of her What Cats Need and Like list.

    All right, Zelda. You’re also part of this family. Pedro scooped up the wriggling white cat, even though he knew she hated cuddling. "Even if you are the loudest cat in the entire city."

    Zelda S flew from his arms, her legs scrambling in all directions, before landing and swishing her tail in front of her bowl. Her green eyes were fixed on Sophia.

    Food. Now. Or do I knock something over?

    All right, Brat Cat. You win this round.

    As Sophia bent to retrieve the mouse-shaped bowl, she knew everything would be all right. It was US (Sophia, Pedro, Zelda S, and Mr. O’D) against THEM (anyone in authority who might try to change their living arrangements).

    Chapter 2

    Another Year

    of Servitude at JSCA

    As Sophia approached JSCA’s tall, carved doors, her mind returned to her first day of school last year. She had whined to Nana about her uniform.

    Why do I have to wear this ugly brown plaid sack? It defeats the awesomeness of my bright red sneakers!

    Nana had raised a sarcastic eyebrow and stopped in mid-pour of Mr. O’Donoghue’s tea.

    "It’s required by the school. And, it’s far less ugly than the one I wore as a girl. And, if you ask again, I’m taking away your privilege of being treated as an adult."

    It should at least be unusual, not ugly and boring. Sophia’s words increased in pitch and speed. Nana’s laser eye hit the center of her granddaughter’s forehead to imprint Life Lesson No. 3,076.

    Be thankful they don’t have a footwear code. Besides, it ensures that no one attending JSCA will feel inferior because of their clothing.

    Sophia had rolled her eyes. (What a laugh!) The mandatory brown jumper and white blouse did nothing to stop the inequality at the James Samuel Calder Academy, a.k.a. the Jerks, Snobs, and Creeps Academy. The school catered to the Le Cirque crowd’s children, whereas the ten-year-old Sophia was a card-carrying member of Henry’s Famous Hot Dogs.

    As if to remind Sophia of her status, standing in front of the door to Mrs. Dumfries’s classroom was Ella Cru, a.k.a. Cruella the Creep. Ella was the prettiest and the richest. Her highlighted chestnut locks always glistened. The ugly bag dress even looked elegant on her. Though Ella instigated her share of evil, she always appeared to be one step from sainthood. Except for sports, Sophia tied with Ella or came in a few points higher. Since competition irritated Ella, it was necessary to make the cause of her irritation pay. And because Sophia, Ella’s rival, should be in fifth grade, Ella found her really irritating.

    An alarm should have sounded when Ella smiled and allowed Sophia to pass by her. The fact Ella beat her to school blindsided Sophia. Queen Ella always arrived last to ensure all courtiers were in attendance. Could it be that Sophia was late? She tried to cover her trepidation by smiling at Pedro across the room as she entered. Ella extended a size ten Prada-clad foot and trapped Sophia’s trailing shoelaces, causing her to fly across the aisle and into the lap of John Falcrest. He gallantly helped an embarrassed Sophia to her feet while picking up her books and papers. She tried to pretend that this was no big deal. (O.M.G., not in front of the cutest, nicest boy in the entire school!)

    Pedro jumped from his seat, waving his right arm. Did you see that? Ella tripped her on purpose!

    Mrs. Dumfries made Pedro sit down and be quiet. "I saw no such thing. If Sophia wore ladylike footwear, she could maintain a ladylike deportment."

    (Dumfries has spoken—special emphasis on Dumb!)

    Pedro opened his mouth to argue, but Sophia gave him one of her it’s-not-worth-it looks. Pedro reconsidered crossing Mrs. Dumfries so early in the morning. The skeletal vision in her designer suit and blond bobbed helmet always took the part of the Cru Crew over those of the lower social strata.

    Sophia was indignant as she leaned over to whisper in Pedro’s ear.

    Lady Dumb does not buy her clothes from Bergdorf Goodman, as she claims. I tailed her to a thrift store on the Upper East Side. And the hair is courtesy of Clairol, with enough Super Glue to require a chisel and hammer to reset it.

    Pedro snorted behind his textbook. How come Cruella isn’t looking as smug as she usually does?

    She didn’t intend for me to land in John’s lap. She’s got a huge crush on him. (Who doesn’t have a huge crush on John Falcrest? Those deep blue eyes, that wavy dark hair! Sigh! Gasp!

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