Sofia Martinez by Jaqueline Jules, illustrated by Kim Smith, 96pp, RL 1.5

Sofia Martinez Series
Sofia's Party Shoes
written by Jaqueline Jules, illustrated by Kim Smith
Library Bound Edition purchased with District Funds
The Story: Seven-year-old Sofia lives with her Mamá, Papá, big sisters Elena and Luisa. Her cousins, Hector,  Alonzo, Manuel and baby Mariela live next door with her Tiá Carmen. The Martinez family has been invited to the quinceañera of their family friend, Liliana and Sofia is SO excited. She has never been to a quinceañera and, while she is wearing a party dress that both Elena and Luisa have worn already, Sofia has brand new, sparkly white shoes. And she wants to show them off to her cousins, even though Mamá told her to put them away. And of course something goes wrong and her new white shoes are stained purple with grape juice. But, Sofia has to wear her new shoes anyway. Seeing Liliana and her beautiful gown make Sofia forget to be grumpy about her shoes for a while. Best of all, at the end of the night when all the guest are trying to find their shoes in the pile where they left them just off the dance floor, Sofia picks out her purple and sparkly-white shoes easily.

The Illustrations: Half or full page illustrations alternate throughout the book and Smith's illustrations are colorful and evocative of a Disney movie. However, with a limited palette, as another review noted, all the characters have the same color hair and skin and are hard to differentiate at times. This is problematic in a beginning reader book as kids are still relying on picture cues to decode the text to a certain degree.
Why Read? Why Buy?: Jules, who is also the author of the Zapato Power chapter book series featuring Freddie Ramos, does a wonderful job creating stories that reflect genuine childhood experiences readers will relate to while also bringing aspects of Latinx life to the page. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text (and highlighted in bold pink) and, while there is a glossary at the back of the book, context clues make their meaning clear. With her strong sense of self and occasionally questionable decision making, Sofia joins a long line of chapter book stars like Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody and even Ramona. I am so grateful for these accessible books that reflect the everyday experiences of my students.

Illustrations from other books in the series:

More books in this fantastic series!

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