Stef Soto, Taco Queen
Stef Soto, Taco Queen

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Annotation: Mexican-American Stef Soto is hoping to break free from her overprotective parents and embarrassing reputation from her family's taco truck business, but she soon learns that family, friendship, and the taco truck are important and wonderful parts of her life.
Catalog Number: #154623
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 166 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-30684-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-0395-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-30684-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-0395-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2015036991
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Stef Soto is tired of feeling babied by her parents, and she's especially tired of being known as the Taco Queen because of her dad's food truck, called Tía Perla. She wants them to give her a little more freedom, but she's having trouble working out how to prove she's mature enough. When her family's livelihood is threatened by new food truck codes, Stef wants to speak out in defense of Tía Perla, but she's not quite sure where to begin. This cheery, relatable story features short and sweet chapters with plenty of Spanish words and phrases sprinkled in and a cheer-worthy main character in Stef, a happy, funny girl who adores art above all. It's her outlet for everything she feels, and when she finally realizes how her love of art can help her parents' business, she also learns how to better communicate her feelings and needs. While the tone here is often lighthearted, this will also be relevant to any kid whose parents have moved to another country to seek a better life.
Horn Book
When new regulations threaten to shut down her father's unsightly food truck, Tma Perla, Stef at first thinks it isn't the worst thing in the world. Torres captures what it's like to be a young person seeking independence and breathes life into the old food truck, which becomes another character. Young readers will feel a kinship with Stef in this engaging and relatable novel.
Kirkus Reviews
Debut novelist Torres delivers a light, touching novel about a seventh-grader, her first-generation family’s food truck, and her tribulations at school. Estefania “Stef” Soto is the daughter of hardworking, rule-abiding Mexican-American parents; she is a skilled artist, but at school she’s best-known for Tía Perla, their family food truck. When not stationed at parks or convenience stores, Papi can be found driving it to and from school to chauffeur Stef, which humiliates her. Present-tense narrator Stef is an only child who speaks Spanish at home and finds herself translating for her dad from time to time; Mami works evenings as a cashier at the open-all-night grocery store. Just when the story starts to feel like a standard-issue preteen drama rife with petty rivalries, a substantial, meaningful, two-pronged plot develops: the depletion of art-class supplies leads to a student-led fundraiser, and new city-government rules threaten the family’s food-truck business. Woven through the story are both typical Spanish words (“órale,” “ándale,” “vámonos”) and more elaborate phrases, such as “Aprendiste algo?” and “Es una cantante.” (The Spanish is unitalicized and effortlessly explicated in context.) Torres is mindful of the casting, which includes Latino teachers, parents, and students (and a Latina pop star) and a Korean student (Arthur Choi, Stef’s close friend). Short chapters give readers an engaging glimpse of food-truck culture through the Soto family’s sacrifices, values, and hardships. Once readers get past the drama, they’ll cheer for Stef Soto, her family, and Tía Perla. (Fiction. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
The bones of this polished debut are familiar-overprotective parents, seventh-grade social struggles-but Torres fleshes them out with authenticity, humor, and heart. The only child of immigrant parents, Stef is embarrassed by her father-s rundown taco truck, Tía Perla, which he considers part of the family; after helping Papi serve customers, Stef watches as he locks the vehicle-s kitchen door -and gives it a quick tap-the way you might congratulate an old friend with a pat on the back.- Tía Perla plays a key role in the development of both the plot and Stef-s character: her growing self-confidence helps her deflect ongoing mean-spirited comments about the truck from her onetime friend Julia, she summons the courage to speak up at a meeting debating regulations that could put her father and other mobile food vendors out of business, and she uses Tía Perla to save the class dance during a power outage. Stef-s fresh, honest voice will resonate with a broad swath of readers, as will the relatable struggles she negotiates. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Jan.)

School Library Journal
Gr 36 Estefania "Stef" Soto just wants to be a typical seventh grader. She wants to have friends. She wants to fit in, and she wants a bit of independence from her overprotective immigrant parents. Stef knows enough not to expect to be able to take a city bus to school, the way her former friend Julia does, but even a school bus is deemed too risky by her parents. Her papi insists on picking her up every day in Tia Perla, his beat-up taco truck. Each day, he asks, " ¿Aprendiste algo? " (Did she learn something?) Then they find a spot for her father to drum up business while Stef does her homework. Deep down, she's proud of her parents and knows they are working hard to provide for her, but she's also resentful of the ease with which some of her classmates, especially Julia, get thingslike tickets to see Vivian Vega in concert. Even if she could earn the money for tickets, she knows her parents would never let her go. This earnest debut features a relatable narrator, stalwart friends, and caring parents who are working hard and struggling. The subplot involving a pop idol threatens to veer into after-school special territory but avoids doing so. The core of the storyfriendship and the importance of familywins out, leaving tweens with a satisfying, gentle read. VERDICT A worthy addition to library shelves; hand this to younger middle grade readers looking for family-centered realistic fiction. Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ
Word Count: 32,422
Reading Level: 4.8
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.8 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 187290 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.7 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q70379
Lexile: 780L
Guided Reading Level: U
Fountas & Pinnell: U

A heartwarming middle grade about family, friendship, and finding your voice (plus, tacos!).


Seventh grader Estefania "Stef" Soto is itching to shake off the onion-and-cilantro embrace of Tia Perla, her family's taco truck. She wants nothing more than for her dad to get a normal job and for Tia Perla to be put out to pasture. It's no fun being known as the "Taco Queen" at school.

But just when new city regulations are proposed, and her family's livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck's unlikely champion.

In this fun and multicultural middle grade novel, Stef will embrace her identity and discover what matters most.


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