A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Spanish phrases are plentiful, as it's the first language of Stef's parents, whose English is just "good enough" to get by; they're usually translated. Along the way, a number of practical skills, including customer service and creative food prep, play an important role in unfolding events, and are shown to be positive things. School, education, and good teaching are presented enthusiastically; one character goes to Korean school on weekends.
Hard work, education, family, friendship, teamwork, and strong community are all important values here. So are clever problem-solving and working to make things right when you do something out of line. There's also a lot of Latino pride, as most of the characters are Latin American.
Positive Role Models
Stef is a good kid and a believable middle-schooler who works hard in school, helps her parents, and pretty much stays out of trouble. She gets annoyed with her parents' possibly overprotective ways, but she also appreciates being in a loving family. She and her friends are a good team, and she's quick to make it right when she messes up things between them. Her parents are kind, loving, and supportive; so are her teachers.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jennifer Torres' Stef Soto, Taco Queen, offers young readers a lot of relatable situations, a raft of positive messages about family, friends, and community, plus a chance to pick up a bit of conversational Spanish as characters switch between languages. Thirteen-year-old protagonist-narrator Stef is a good kid who obeys her parents, helps out in the family business, and makes things right with her friends when she's in the wrong. But she'll also strike a chord with many readers as she deals with middle-school issues, tries to get her parents to be a bit less overprotective, and really wishes she didn't get picked up from school in a taco truck.
Is It Any Good?
Jennifer Torres' tasty, funny, heartwarming tale of a Latina middle-schooler, her loving parents, the family food truck Tia Perla, and their sometimes-surprising adventures is a satisfying treat. Along the way there are lots of positive messages about responsibility, family, friendship, and community -- plus frequent opportunities to improve your Spanish vocabulary as characters switch languages and narrator Stef translates.
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