Novel: Stef Soto, Taco Queen
Author: Jennifer Torres
Target Audience: 8 to 12
Publication Year: 2017
Setting: United States; contemporary
A Favorite Quote: “‘We did it,’ Papi says simply, ‘because our compadres needed us.'”
My One Sentence Summary: Stef Soto is embarrassed by her family’s taco truck and longing for some freedom from her protective parents, but when the family’s welfare is threatened by new regulations, maybe, Stef will find a way to prove her newfound maturity and help save Papi’s food truck.
What I loved about this book: I thought Stef was a relatable and realistic seventh grade character. I enjoyed the sweet relationships she shared with her family and friends. I appreciated the positive portrayal of Stef’s teachers whose advice and guidance help Stef along the path to maturity–and I especially liked the writing prompts Stef had to answer in English class. As a teacher, I found myself brainstorming ways these could be incorporated into my classroom. Lastly, I appreciated the diversity reflected in this story with characters from many different backgrounds–Mexican, Greek, Korean, etc…
Major themes: Helping others without a motive/without expecting a benefit for yourself; using your gifts and talents to make the world a better place; being true to yourself and your heritage
Who should read this book: This book will resonate with readers who enjoy heartfelt contemporary fiction–perhaps a particularly good fit for young readers who enjoy cooking and food. (The many rich descriptions throughout the novel had me craving tacos!) The book also contains many references to music and art, which may appeal to creative personalities who appreciate a tale set in the real world.