Sneak Peek: Stef Soto, la reina del taco is a great book to add to your heritage speaker classroom library. This book is especially great for middle schoolers!
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I was drawn to this book because of the attractive cover, cute title, and approachable length. The length of the book is manageable for my heritage students and the reading level is equally accessible. It’s not too difficult, yet definitely written for fluent speakers and is significantly more challenging than your everyday TPRS reader.
Stef Soto, the main character writes from her perspective about being the daughter of a taco truck owner. Her father’s truck has been affectionately named Tía Perla. She describes her love-hate relationship with Tía Perla, her feelings about her parents being overprotective when she wins tickets to a concert but can’t go due to the overbearing nature of her parents, and the general teenage issue of trying to fit in at school.
As a seventh grader, Stef quickly becomes someone the reader can relate to as we get to know her innermost fears, worries, and desires. I love the cultural nuance in the book about her parents being heavily protective of their daughter in a foreign land. We see the tension of the loyalty Stef feels to her family mixed with the embarrassment that comes from not completely fitting in with the societal norms of her classmates and what vehicles the other students ride home from school in.
There is a special moment of clarity when her mom explains why they are so protective of her. They break through the confusion of the teenage condition and inform their daughter that as immigrants themselves, they aren’t always certain of how the systems are set-up and get their point across that though they are trying, navigating the world in their second language isn’t easy. The climax of the novel comes when Stef uses her voice at a town hall meeting to help her parents push back on the unfair regulations that were about to be imposed on food trucks.
Overall, I think this book is a great addition to a heritage-speaker classroom library. It is entirely appropriate for school and could be read as a class novel for middle school heritage.
As the read follows Stef’s journey from extreme disappointment to great surprise, the storyline of this book has some beautiful life-lessons embedded within it. This book is heartwarming. I loved seeing Stef’s transformation from an embarrassed daughter of a food truck owner to being proud of her heritage, and by the end of the book, she certainly becomes our hero.
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