Eileen Holland describes the award-winning Sophie Trophy series as “slapstick comedy” that both children and adults can enjoy. Parents, teachers, and kids praise Sophie Trophy for its diverse approach to children’s literature.
If you grew up in the Tri-Cities, the award-winning children’s book series Sophie Trophy will likely make you feel nostalgic.
Eileen Holland’s book strikes a familiar narrative to those who spent their formative years in search of adventure.
The former Coquitlam teacher is the recipient of this year’s Chocolate Lily Award in the Children’s Chapter Book category. She says her own childhood wanderlust was an inspiration for Sophie Trophy’s silly antics.
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“I was a quiet little dreamy kid with a big imagination,” she says.
Like many children who grew up in B.C., Holland liked to spend time connecting to nature.
“I was sort of an unusual kid, but it was my thing that I liked to look through classification books. And if there was a spider, you know, I would go and look it up and see what his name was,” Holland explains.
The first book in the Sophie Trophy series explores Sophie’s determination to save a spider she finds in her third grade classroom.
“Sophie’s wacky plans go hilariously wrong,” explains Holland. “Does Sophie Trophy give up? No, she’s determined to save the day and the spider no matter what.”
Looking for Trouble
But Holland says there’s one key factor that separates her from Sophie. Unlike Sophie, Holland never got in trouble when she was a student.
Luckily, Holland’s former students at Ranch Park Elementary School, Coquitlam gave her more than enough creative inspiration to turn Sophie into a troublemaker.
“The world needs kids who get into trouble,” she exclaims passionately. “I really like the kids who got into trouble. They drove me crazy sometimes, but they had spark.”
Holland’s time teaching at Ranch Park Elementary School gave more than just inspiration for the vibrant characters in Sophie Trophy. “In the school in the story, you could picture yourself being in Ranch Park School,” she says.
Diversity on the Shelves
Sophie Trophy is meant to be a book for everyone.
“I want both the teachers and the parents to get a kick out of the book as they’re reading it to their kids,” says Holland.
“The book is super geared to both girls and boys,” Holland says.
Sophie doesn’t follow the usual tropes laid out for young girls.
“Sophie’s even a little bit of a tomboy, which is what I was, you know. My parents said ‘you can do anything, you can climb mountains’,” she exclaims.
When writing Sophie Trophy, Holland wanted to give representation to kids with learning disabilities who often don’t see themselves reflected in books.
“There’s a certain type of that child in every class. Every class has someone who has ADHD, which is what she has. And so kids will recognize that child, they just may not be able to put the actual letters to it,” she says as she explains her creative process.
A Special Panel of Judges
More than anything, Holland wants her audience to appreciate her writing. Her goal is to write a series that is so funny and entertaining, that it makes kids want to turn off their devices.
“If it’s a perfect book the kids will get addicted to it and they don’t have to be on the iPad,” Holland explains. “Reading a book where they know all the characters is like going out and meeting up with a group of friends.”
Winning the Chocolate Lily Award has been an incredible achievement for Holland, due to its special panel of judges.
The Chocolate Lily Award is decided by elementary school students. Children across B.C are given books to read and then can vote on their favourite.
“It just means so much to me, I can’t even tell you. . . Making them happy is the best thing you could possibly do,” Holland expresses with gratitude.
Sophie Trophy and Sophie Trophy Too are available for purchase. Elaine Holland is currently working on a third book in the Sophie Trophy children’s chapter book series.