Stef Soto, Taco Queen

StefSotoTacoQueenStef Soto, Taco Queen
Written by Jennifer Torres

Publisher’s Summary:
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.

Primary Source Pairing:
Stef is proud of her family’s success with Tía Perla, their Taco Truck, but wouldn’t mind losing the onion and cilantro aroma from Tía Perla that follows her to school. Stef’s journey through the story will resonate with readers as she experiences life’s challenges and successes. Tía Perla is as much a character in this book as many of the humans. For this primary source pairing, invite students to examine this photograph taken by Camilo José Vergara who is documenting the impact of COVID-19 on poor, segregated communities in cities around the country. Learn more about his work here. The photograph is titled “People waiting for their orders. Famous Birria Landia Tacos truck, 78-03 Roosevelt Ave., Queens.”

As a reminder, a primary source is the raw material of history; created in the time of study. The time of study for this series of work by Camilo José Vergara is now – present time. This is a good reminder for students that primary sources are not necessarily dusty documents or faded photographs. Primary sources are part of our history, yes, but they are also being made each and every day of our present.

Camilo José Vergara’s photographs about the impact of COVID-19 are especially poignant as we are all living through this historic pandemic. Much of the media (books, TV, movies) we are currently consuming was created before the pandemic. It is important to see images that represent our day to day reality as we navigate the new landscape created by the pandemic. Using an image showing people in masks is an important part of our current reality.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • When do you think this photograph was taken?
  • Use visual evidence to support your thoughts.
  • Make a connection to this photograph with something you read in the book Stef Soto, Taco Queen.
  • What is similar about this taco truck, Birria Landia, and Tía Perla from Stef Soto, Taco Queen?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
“People waiting for their orders. Famous Birria Landia Tacos truck, 78-03 Roosevelt Ave., Queens” photograph by Camilo José Vergara: Library of Congress Note: Camilo José Vergara’s work is under copyright. Respect copyright rule when using this photograph with students.
Documenting Crossroads: The Coronavirus in Poor, Minority Communities by Camilo José Vergara: National Building Museum