Stef Soto, Taco Queen

Stef Soto

Stef Soto, Taco Queen
by Jennifer Torres

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Jennifer Torres website:

Jennifer Torres bio:

Jennifer Torres Blog:

Jennifer Torres Interview on Middle Grade Minded:

Activities & Resources:



How to make beef tacos:

How to make bean and cheese burritos:

Survey your friends as to their favorite Spanish food. Create a graph to show the results.

How to make salsa:

Learning Spanish words:

Colors Matching Game in Spanish:

Download song lyrics and sheet to learn colors and numbers in Spanish:


The most important soccer skill for kids to develop:

Soccer: how to play basics:

Funny soccer – game:


How to sketch:

Wax Resist:


Information about polymers:

How to make crazy putty:

Letter writing:

MakerSpace Activities:

Make your own taco truck:

Create musical instruments using materials such as – cardboard tubes, shoeboxes, construction paper, plastic containers, beans, rice, string, paper plates, etc.

Discussion Questions:

Has your family ever saved up money for a special trip or project? What part did you play in the process? Did the plan work?

How would you respond to this writing prompt from Stef’s teacher? “Why me?”

Stef thought it was easier to draw her thoughts than to write about them. How do you best express your thoughts? Do you do this easily?

Stef and Amanda are best friends. What was unusual about how they met? How did you meet one of your friends? What made you realize that you thought of each other as friends?

Stef’s teacher asked the class to journal about how it feels to be wrong. How would you respond to that prompt?

How important is it for you to have a phone? Explain. How do you feel about restrictions for it – for example, when you can use it, who you can call, etc.?

Stef felt like her parents “hovered” and never let her feel any independence. Give evidence of this. How do the grownups in your family treat you? Give an example.

Stef really wanted to go to the concert. How do you feel about Stef’s parents not letting her go? Have you ever wanted to go or do something that your grownups didn’t want you to do? How did you try to change their minds? Were you successful?

Stef’s family usually ate breakfast together on Sunday mornings at Suzy’s. What does your family do together every week? Explain.

Stef’s friends ask her if she got Viviana’s autograph when she came to the taco truck. Do you have a celebrity’s autograph? If so, whose? If not, have you tried to get one? Why do you think some people really value a celebrity’s autograph?

Stef helped Papi with the family taco truck business. How would you feel working with your family in a business? What do you think Stef liked least about working with her dad?

When Stef was in the commissary and she had time to look at all the food trucks, she thought that the trucks were just like canvases. Do you pay attention to the designs painted on trucks? Why or why not? Do you remember a favorite design?

Papi sometimes struggled to understand English. Have you lived in a country where you didn’t speak the main language? If yes, how was that? If no, would you be willing to move to a country where you had to learn a new language? Explain.

How would you respond to this writing prompt from Stef’s teacher – “Imagine that you can time travel, but your parents don’t believe you. How would you convince them?”

If you were in a club that wanted to raise money, what project or projects would you suggest? What part would you want to help with – making signs, asking for donations, or creating blurbs for morning announcements or something else? Do you have a special talent in one of these areas? Explain.

Respond to another one of Stef’s teacher’s writing prompts – “If you had to live inside a book for two weeks, which book would you choose?” Explain.

At first Stef didn’t want to talk to the City Council on behalf of the food trucks, but she did. How much do you think her speech influenced the Council’s decisions?

How do you think Stef handled the situation when her classmates assumed she knew Viviana Vega well enough to get her to perform at their school dance?

Stef describes her two friends’ anger – “Amanda boils over and cools right back down. Arthur’s different. His anger is more like a slow, steady simmer”. How does your anger compare with these two descriptions? Explain.

Julia and Stef used to be best friends but then things changed and they both blamed each other. Have you ever had a best friend who then became someone else’s best friend? What did it feel like? Was the situation like how Julia treated Stef?

How well do you think you would you fit in with Stef’s family and friends? Give examples to support your answer.

When Julia and Stef arrived at the art supplies fundraiser dance, everything was going wrong – no electricity, no power, no food. Julia tried to call her mom and then stomped off screaming. Stef stayed and devised another option. If you had been at the dance, how would you have responded to the disaster?

Stef wanted her Papi to sell his food truck and get a different job. Were you surprised then that she persuaded Julia to help her paint the truck? Why do you think she did that?

This book had no illustrations. How easy was it for you to visualize the action in your head? Do you prefer stories that have illustrations? Explain.

Book Talk Teasers:

Read the Readers Theater.

On 8”X11” paper design tickets to a concert that young people would want to attend. Draw a big red X across one of them and explain that this situation is one of the issues in this story – someone who has a ticket is not allowed to go to the concert.

Read Alikes:

First person narratives, Realistic fiction, Culturally diverse:

Cervantes, Angela. Allie, first at last. Born into a family of over-achievers, fifth-grader Allie Velasco has never finished first in anything, and lately things have been going badly: her science project is ruined by a well-meaning student, her former best friend is hanging out with another girl–but now she is determined to win the Trailblazer contest with a photographic presentation about her great grandfather, the first Congressional Medal of Honor winner from their town. (NoveList Plus)

Realistic fiction, Amusing:

Stead, Rebecca. Liar & spy. Seventh-grader Georges adjusts to moving from a house to an apartment, his father’s efforts to start a new business, his mother’s extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building.  (NoveList Plus)

Realistic fiction, Character-driven:

Ada, Alma Flor. Love, Amalia. Sixth-grader Amalia learns many important life-lessons while spending Friday afternoons with her beloved grandmother, and the teaching goes on even after Abuelita’s sudden death as Amalia finds a way to connect with relatives and a friend who has moved away. (NoveList Plus)

Realistic fiction, Culturally diverse:

Graff, Lisa. Absolutely almost.Ten-year-old Albie has never been the smartest, tallest, best at gym, greatest artist, or most musical in his class, as his parents keep reminding him, but new nanny Calista helps him uncover his strengths and take pride in himself. (NoveList Plus)

Perez, Celia C. The first rule of punk.Twelve-year-old Maraia Luisa O’Neill-Morales (who really prefers to be called Malâu) reluctantly moves with her Mexican-American mother to Chicago and starts seventh grade with a bang–violating the dress code with her punk rock aesthetic and spurning the middle school’s most popular girl in favor of starting a band with a group of like-minded weirdos. (NoveList Plus)

Realistic fiction, Issue-oriented:

Hunt, Lynda Mullaly. Fish in a tree. “Ally’s greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn’t know how to read”–  (NoveList Plus)


Torres, Jennifer Stef Soto, Taco Queen
167 pp. Little 2017. ISBN 978-0-316-30686-7 Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-30687-4
(2) 4-6 When new regulations threaten to shut down her father’s unsightly food truck, Tía 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.  Reprinted fromThe Horn Book Guide Excerpt in Magazine  by permission of Horn Book, Inc.

Torres, Jennifer.  Stef Soto, Taco Queen.  Little,  Brown and Company, 2017.
School Library Journal (August 1, 2016)
Gr 3-6-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 things-like 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 story-friendship and the importance of family-wins 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 ©  Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.  Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal , 2016.

Torres, Jennifer.  Stef Soto, Taco Queen.  Little,  Brown and Company, 2017.
Booklist (November 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 5)
Grades 3-6. 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. Used with the permission of Booklist