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  • Susan Stoderl

Middle-Grade Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers Detective Series | How Sophia Came About

The main character in my Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers series is a rambunctious, precocious ten-year-old girl going on forty. The character is partially autobiographical.

In a group of women artists, all working in different mediums, we had an assignment in which we were to summarize a hurtful time in our childhood to let it go. Sophia was born out of a short story I wrote entitled “Sophia of the Bright Red Sneakers.” I named her Sophia because it means the personification of Wisdom in Greek. I’m not sure if I still have the story or if I destroyed it.

In the story, Sophia, a five or six-year-old girl questions herself by looking into a mirror. She drops it and the mirror shatters all over the floor. Fear consumes her because she had strict orders to never handle it. Only she knew it was a repository for all the nasty things anyone had said or done to her. Staring at all the tiny pieces of glass around her caused her to become more upset. It was bad enough hearing all those nasty words coming from the mirror, but the breakage multiplied them ten times over. Then she noticed her bright red sneakers.

Sophia began to realize how special those shoes were to her. She had wanted them for a long time before her grandmother bought them for her. Sophia decided those sneakers were magical. They would keep her safe and carry her anywhere in the world she wanted to go.

And so they did.


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