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Stef Soto, Taco Queen

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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 it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants, and her family's livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck's unlikely champion.

176 pages, Hardcover

First published January 17, 2017

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Jennifer Torres

3 books37 followers

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5 stars
525 (22%)
4 stars
1,098 (48%)
3 stars
578 (25%)
2 stars
69 (3%)
1 star
17 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 388 reviews
Profile Image for Julie G.
895 reviews2,920 followers
October 18, 2022
This was a read-aloud with my 12-year-old, and the rating is hers (she's the target audience).

When I asked her why she rated it 4 stars, she said, "Because Mexican food is one of the main characters."
Profile Image for Wendy MacKnight.
Author 3 books85 followers
June 5, 2016
I loved this book and its slice of life portrayal of a young girl trying to sprout her wings under the overly-watchful eyes of her immigrant parents. The parents' characters are wonderful, but it is Stef and her classmates that sing on the page. No false steps here, just gloriously messy reality of being twelve years old. A beautiful book and my only complaint is how hungry I was while reading!
Profile Image for Ruth Lehrer.
Author 3 books65 followers
June 19, 2016
I received a free ARC of this 2017 middle grade book. What a great read! Torres's skillful use of two languages carries Stef Soto through middle school stresses with friends and parents. I loved the way descriptions of the use of Spanish words are seamlessly woven into the text without ever seeming pedantic or out of character. Taco Queen is a great story of a kid with first generation immigrant, working class parents, including the totally realistic details of a child having to play the role of interpreter for her father. Also, I'm a sucker for good food writing and I will be searching the streets for Papi's taco truck at lunch time. I look forward to this MG book being available to kids all over in 2017.
Profile Image for Kristin.
Author 6 books55 followers
August 2, 2016
STEF SOTO, TACO QUEEN is a heart-warming middle-grade debut. The main character, Estefania "Stef" Soto, won me over with her sincerity and strength of spirit, okay and her love for art. (Not to mention her art teacher is also pretty great.) I'm a sucker for books centered around authentic family dynamics and relatable friendships, however rocky they may first seem. And this book has both in spades, with a healthy dose of food truck scenes that will leave you hankering for your own Tia Perla burrito. I'd give this book 5 tacos if I could. An uplifting read by an author to watch.
Profile Image for Darla.
84 reviews2 followers
August 30, 2018
Stef Soto, our endearing protagonist, hates her family's taco truck, Tia Perla. She hates being picked up in it every day (everyone else's parents lets them walk home - or even take the public bus!), and her former-best-friend is always telling her she smells like a taco. Stef also can't stand how overprotective her parents are, especially when she gets the chance to go to the big Vivianna Vega concert. As the child of overprotective parents myself, I could really identify with Stef's struggle to fit in while at the same time appreciate that her parents' hesitance comes from their love for her. This is a feel-good story about friendship, family, and finding yourself.
Profile Image for Jen Petro-Roy.
Author 8 books346 followers
July 8, 2016
What a fabulous story. Torres has created such a lovable and strong character in Stef, who is *such* a middle-grade heroine, simultaneously embarrassed by and driven to support and protect her parents. Such wonderful details of her culture, too!
Profile Image for Amanda Searcy.
Author 2 books80 followers
June 29, 2016
This is such a lovely story. The relationship between Stef and her parents felt so authentic and was beautifully written. You will fall in love with Tia Perla. (And all of Papi's food!)
14 reviews1 follower
June 21, 2016
Important, poignant, readable, and relatable. I love Stef and her family.
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
2,076 reviews5,039 followers
July 25, 2017
3.5 Stars

Read for Booktubeathon 2017

This was definitely more than just a book about a taco truck and a girl. It was a coming of age story, a story about family, and a story about fighting for what you want the most in life and I loved that. I didn't realize that Stef would be so willing to give up so much in order to make sure her family was ok and happy. It was nice to see the blend between Spanish and English as well. I really enjoyed that aspect. If you're looking for a diverse middle grade read with a host of interesting characters I definitely would check this out. The only reason why this didn't get a full four stars from me is because of the fact that I think that part of the book about the pop star was unneeded. There really wasn't a solid conclusion to that character so I felt like there was a better way for Torres to introduce Stef coming clean.
22 reviews
August 24, 2016
Sweet sweet book about Stef Soto and the challenges she faces in school due to the family business - the Taco Truck. The middle school relationships aren't surprising - the friend who is not longer a friend - the mean girl, but they'll be comforting to young readers in their authenticity. I loved the relationship between Stef and her parents. It really portrayed the complex combination of love and annoyance that is so real at this age. A middle school great read with so much heart!
Profile Image for Libby.
327 reviews
May 18, 2017
A good book about a good kid doing good things. What a pleasant time I had reading this book at age 60! If I were 10 I would make this a favorite and hope the author has more Stef Soto stories up her sleeve.
Profile Image for Afoma (Reading Middle Grade).
614 reviews335 followers
March 21, 2021
Stef Soto, Taco Queen is real about the challenges some immigrant families face to make ends meet financially. Stef’s parents work hard — they worked hard to save for the food truck and to run it — as does Stef. Author Jennifer Torres also highlights other immigrant challenges. For example, Stef often has to translate important information for her father who isn’t confident about his English-speaking skills. Her parents are also extremely protective, fearing for their child in a new country, even though Stef is American.

I loved Stef Soto, Taco Queen and would highly recommend for food lovers, readers who enjoy books about the immigrant experience, and anyone whose parents have worked hard so they can pursue their dreams. Stef Soto, Taco Queen is an engaging, heartfelt, and delicious middle-grade novel. I’m excited to read what author Jennifer Torres writes next!

Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 2 books232 followers
January 30, 2017
Tía Perla is at the center of this middle grade novel: Stef's dad's taco truck, which is kind of like a member of the family. I love how true this feels, that the things we wish we could shed are often the very things we come to treasure about ourselves and our lives. Stef's story is realistic and memorable in terms of family, friends, school, and the desire to both fit in and find yourself, and how the latter is often the key to the first.
Profile Image for Roxanne.
923 reviews60 followers
October 3, 2020
I’m so happy to finally have some middle school books on my TBR. I fell in love with a few I’d stumbled upon by accident and was hungry for more. Luckily, I have a friend who happens to be a fantastic youth librarian and my favourite booktuber. She was kind enough to give me recommendations for middle school books and Stef Sato Taco Queen is the first I’ve read from her list.

What I loved so much about this story was how thoroughly authentic it was. Stef could be any 7th grader. She’s completely “normal” in the sense that she is from a loving, working class family, has over protective parents, and has some middle school drama that isn’t over-sensationalized. As she’s growing, she’s struggling for some independence from her parents, navigating evolving social constructs to find her “group” has changed as her interests change and some childhood friendships grow apart while new relationships grow stronger. She’s maturing and making mistakes along the way just like any other 12 or 13 year old as they test the boundaries of adolescence. She’s also experiencing the real life problems families face and discovering that real heroes are all around us and do heroic things everyday to keep her safe and happy. And most importantly, she can also be the hero of her own story. I loved it!
71 reviews
January 9, 2020
A fantastic book about a girl who works in a taco truck and her over protective parents.
Profile Image for Abby Johnson.
3,373 reviews318 followers
August 23, 2016
Stef Soto hates Tia Perla.

Nope, Tia Perla is not her aunt. Tia Perla is her family's taco truck, her father's American Dream realized. It was fun riding around in the taco truck and helping out when she was younger, but now Stef's in seventh grade and it's totally embarrassing to get picked up from school by the giant taco truck. When her former best friend and sometimes mean girl Julia tells another girl that Stef smells like tacos, that she's the taco queen, Stef has had enough. She wants Tia Perla out of her life. But when her dad's business actually faces some adversity, Stef will have to figure out what's most important to her after all.

This is a sweet story that reminded me of a Disney Channel movie (in a good way). I love food trucks, so that was a nice detail. This is a story that will appeal to fans of contemporary middle school fiction (frenemies, school dances, etc.) and young foodies alike.

(Comes out January 2017.)
Profile Image for Shantel.
164 reviews13 followers
September 11, 2018
Stef Soto, Taco Queen is a middle grade book, which, I’ll be honest, is not a genre I am very familiar with, outside of the books I read when I was in the middle grade book range itself. It tells the story of Stef Soto, an artist, who is having trouble believing in herself, and seeing herself on her own terms, and not in terms of the old taco truck that her family runs. I saw so much of my own pre-teen self in this story. Though the experiences themselves don’t directly mirror my life, the feelings and themes resonated strongly. Family, in particular is something that stands out more than anything else.

To read full review, please visit: https://pagingshantel.wordpress.com/2...
Profile Image for Wendi Lee.
Author 1 book469 followers
August 7, 2017
*4.5 stars*

I loved this book! Stef is tired of her parents treating her like a child, and she's embarrassed when her father picks up from school in Tia Perla, the family's taco food truck. She especially wants them to let her go to a pop concert with her best friend, unchaperoned.

But things don't always go as planned. Stef understands that her family is the most important thing in her life, and she puts her heart into helping their business and keeping the family together. I especially loved the scene in which Stef's father explains how scary and hard it was to immigrate from Mexico to the US, and how much their food truck means to them.
Profile Image for Brandy Painter.
1,632 reviews251 followers
February 20, 2017
This is a short, quick MG read that any middle schooler experiencing the utter embarrassment of having parents will be able to relate with and understand. (So all of them.) Stef is starting to find many of the things her parents do humiliating to the point of not wanting them around when her friends are present anymore. Added to that is the frustration that they don't seem to understand her. This is a good add to libraries because it is a story of friendship, family, and school woes with a diverse cast. I love how there was so much Spanish included in it as well.
June 7, 2018
Good book

I really liked this book, it had happy and sad moments, liked when they were thinking of selling the truck. I'm glad that they did not sell the taco truck. In my mind I think it turned out pretty. I recommend it to other 4th graders and above. -Tharon Campbell 4th grader.
Profile Image for Lesley Looper.
2,198 reviews66 followers
May 29, 2017
This is a super charming YA book! What a delight to read over the holiday weekend! Just delightful. There's a little angst thrown in, but it's manageable. Love the food truck theme winding through. And, of course, I have a taco craving now.
Profile Image for Dee Dee G.
547 reviews7 followers
May 25, 2019
Anything with the word taco in it instantly makes me crave one lol. Very cute and short book for all ages.
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,822 reviews139 followers
February 22, 2023
Checked this out to see if it would be a good book club book, but I found it very meh. I don't know why but I couldn't get into the characters or their "troubles" at all.

Stef is a 6th grader who wants a couple of things:
*her dad to stop picking her up in the taco truck
*to go to the concert with her friend
*for annoying Julia to go away

Stef and her friends didn't come across as "real" to me and I had a hard time suspending reality for that. They just all seemed so fake and one-dimensional. Even Stef. I also couldn't buy the art teacher and the dance scenario. It was a great idea, I just don't see it happening with 6th graders.

Honestly, and weirdly, the most interesting part of the book, for me, was the city council meeting about the taco trucks. It was interesting to hear the arguments on both sides. I liked Stef's sweet dad, but I just wasn't invested in the whole taco truck thing. I also thought Stef was kind of annoying and dumb, especially about the singer and the dance.

I was very "meh" about the whole novel and only finished it out because it was so short. We will not be using for book club.
Profile Image for Majandra.
7 reviews2 followers
November 22, 2019
4 stars. Stef Soto is a normal middle school girl…except her father has a taco truck. It embarrasses her at school pick-up and makes kids tease her that she smells like tacos. But she knows how important it is to her family, even if she doesn’t like it. This was a fast, fun read. I enjoyed the food writing a lot. Stef’s attitude and tantrum annoyed me, but I was I happy that she grew as a character. The ending made me happy, especially reading about how Stef and Julia decorated the taco truck and how Stef learned to love it.
Profile Image for Sarah.
69 reviews
January 19, 2022
Middle grade isn't normally something I go for but for a readathon I'm branching out. Thankfully, this was adorable. It's a heartwarming story about family and realizing what's really important.
Profile Image for B.
1,796 reviews7 followers
January 1, 2021
Yum, this book made me hungry. I liked how the family worked together to work for a goal. Stef understood about not having a lot of money, and that helping her family helped her . Good story.
10 reviews1 follower
December 11, 2019
the book is amazing you should read it because it is a book i think you would like
Profile Image for Dana.
24 reviews5 followers
September 14, 2019
All Stef wants is a little more freedom in her life. Freedom to walk a few blocks from school to avoid being picked up by her dad's taco truck, Tía Perla. Freedom to stay home alone. Freedom to go to a pop star's concert. It seems she will eternally be the "Taco Queen" every afternoon and weekend, chopping cilantro and taking meal orders. That is, until some changes risk the family business.

One thing I really loved about this book was the focus on food as a way to connect people. Stef's dad will always be home as long as he is making his mother's recipes, and he always comforts Stef with a meal or snack from his taco truck. The use of food reminds me of the mood elicited in the Little House series. Jennifer Torres creates that warm feeling of home within her descriptions of cooking, serving, and eating the delicious food of Tía Perla. The focus on food directly connects to the theme of family. Stef's memories of sacrifice and hope for her dad's dream makes the food-family connection even stronger.

Middle-grade readers will easily relate to Stef's feelings and battles, especially in her everyday relationships with friends and ex-friends. I loved seeing her journey throughout this story, and I would recommend this book to readers looking for an inspirational story about a girl discovering what really matters to her. (WARNING: This story WILL make you hungry!)

I received an ARC of this book from Little Brown to share the #bookquest reading group.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emma.
Author 2 books78 followers
December 27, 2016
Grade: B
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for review consideration.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm not usually much for middle grade books anymore, but this one caught my eye last year, and when it was available for review request on Edelweiss, I decided to give it a try. While it isn't going to be one of my favorites, it's definitely a hit that younger readers will love.
Stef Soto is a feel-good story about a young girl who is proud of her parents but a bit embarrassed of her papi's taco truck, Tia Perla. She also wants more freedom and to be treated like a teenager, not a child, things that I'm sure many young readers could relate to. The plot overall is a bit simple and the friendships didn't go as deep as I wanted them to, but I liked that Stef was willing to apologize for her mistakes and that Julia wasn't such a mean girl. Ms. Torres did a good job explaining (but not necessarily excusing) Julia's behavior. The Viviana Vega plotline could've been a bit more important earlier on; it worked towards the end but not much before that for me. But the taco truck plot was great. It felt grown-up and realistic, not like something you'd see in a Disney Channel movie.

The Verdict: I acknowledge that I am not the target audience for this book, so it felt a bit too juvenile for me. However, I definitely think it could be a hit with middle grade readers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 388 reviews

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