I Am Sonia Sotomayor: Ordinary People Change the World

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
I Am Sonia Sotomayor: Ordinary People Change the World Book Poster Image
Positive messages in engaging bio of Supreme Court justice.

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age 10+
Based on 1 review

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There's quite a lot of information packed into these 40 pages that's likely to inspire young readers to explore further, e.g. Spanish phrases and Puerto Rican culture, recollections of Nancy Drew books (which inspired young Sonia to want to be a detective), and diabetes (with which she was diagnosed at an early age. Also an age-appropriate, interesting look at the law and justice system, and the roles played by various people, especially judges.

Positive Messages

"You can't dream about what you don't know about." "Pay attention to the ones who believe in you. The more you learn, the farther you'll go." "No matter where you're born, there's no limit to what you can accomplish." Strong messages of love for family, culture, and learning, as well as working hard and following your dreams. Especially, not letting the bad things that happen to you keep you from pursuing your dreams and helping others. Also, when things are hard, reading books can help you feel better.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Narrator/protagonist Sonia Sotomayor overcomes a lot of obstacles -- e.g. growing up poor, her father's early death, her own diagnosis with diabetes -- and ventures into lots of new worlds in pursuit of her dreams of solving problems and helping others. Along the way she's helped by many kind adults, from her mother, who works long hours to send her kids to a good school, to mentors who advise her to apply to Princeton, work as a district attorney, and seek a job as a judge.

Violence & Scariness

The future Justice Sotomayor grew up in a rough neighborhood, and one scene shows her brandishing her fists against a band of bullies that was about to beat up her little brother, and telling them they'd have to beat her up first.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Am Sonia Sotomayor is a stellar addition to Brad Meltzer's  Ordinary People Change the World series, taking the future Supreme Court Justice from an apartment in the Bronx to Ivy League college and law school. Then  she's on to a career helping people seek justice, first as a district attorney, then as a judge. Her own drive and love of learning are essential as she overcomes many obstacles and keeps up the hot-pepper energy that gave her her childhood nickname. Just as important are the support, love, and kindness of family, friends, and mentors who  help along the way: "Remember that no one succeeds alone" is a big lesson, along with "No matter where you're born, there's no limit to what you can accomplish." A bit about Puerto Rican culture, and some phrases and expressions in Spanish, Justice Sotomayor's first language.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHolly R. November 25, 2019

Meh, modern politics...

I don't think this particular woman is a woman whom children should aspire to be...

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What's the story?

Growing up poor in the Bronx, the future Supreme Court justice and energetic young narrator of AM SONIA SOTOMAYOR dreamed of being a detective like Nancy Drew, even though they didn't exactly live in the same neighborhood. When childhood diabetes ends her detective dreams, TV lawyer Perry Mason opens up the world of the courtroom. Little Ají (named after a hot pepper) doesn't have it easy, especially after her father dies. But books open up worlds very different from her own, her loving family  supports her, and many kind teachers and mentors help her along the way as she heads to the Ivy League for school and pursues a career first as a district attorney, then as a judge.

Is it any good?

Another winner joins the Ordinary People Change the World Series as author Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos turn to the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. Growing up poor but much loved in the Bronx, young Sonia Sotomayor found dreams and inspiration in books, the determination to pursue them in herself, and the ability to accomplish them thanks to the kindness and support of many. There's a lot to like about young Sonia as she dreams of being a detective, protects her little brother against bullies, and discovers a career in law as a way to help people -- and a lot to relate to in I Am Sonia Sotomayor as she deals with loss and obstacles along the way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about following your dream in I Am Sonia Sotomayor. Is there something important to you that isn't part of your ordinary life but you heard about in a book or movie an dit sparked your interest?

  • Can you think of a time when you wanted something but would have had to go without it if somebody hadn't helped you? What happened? Did you ever have a chance to help someone else the same way?

  • Do you think it would be interesting to be a lawyer and work in a courtroom? Does this book make you see the law differently from the way you did before?

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