Sofia Valdez, Future Prez
The presidential inauguration is right around the corner. Seize the opportunity to inspire your littles to dream BIG. That's what America is about after all: having big dreams and working hard to achieve them. Sofia Valdez shows us all that change is possible. Armed with a goal, determination, and support of loved ones, Sofia Valdez, change maker, will find her way into your heart - as she did mine.
As always, I’ll alert you to potential spoilers with asterisks surrounding the header.
With rhyming text and illustrations that deepen the narrative, Sofia Valdez is a book to inspire any person with a dream to promote change.
Sofia Valdez, Future Prez would be an ideal book to read with your learners if you want to foster belief(s) that:
- Anyone can do what they want; all that is needed is the drive to get it done.
- Even kids can have big ideas that move adults into action.
- All people, even “strong” people, feel fear.
We think this book would be appropriate to read aloud to learners around the ages of 6-8 with independent reading encouraged for ages 8-10. But of course, as is our belief of any picture book, we believe this book packs the potential for amazing learning opportunities for individuals of all ages. (See academic activities suggestions for some ideas of implementation.)
Lexile Level AD680L
- Adult Directed 4-7 Years
- Independent reading level is approximately Fourth Grade
- Interest Level Kindergarten to Third Grade
- Independent Reading Level is 3.7 or end of Third Grade
Reflective of the narrative, David Roberts' artwork is simultaneously quirky and fun while also diverse and contemplative. Plenty of discussion is to be had in the illustrations alone. Look carefully and discover the details Roberts sketched in, from previous Questioneer characters (Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck & Ada Twist) to culturally and socially relevant material.
Welcome to a modern-day town with a problem of trash. Join Sofia over the course of several days, including some nighttime scenes. Tour various places around the town, including Sofia’s house, a nearby apartment building, town hall, and several outdoor locations
- Sofia Valdez – second grader, real-life go-getter, positive attitude
- Abuelo – helpful, cares deeply for others, good role-model
Point of View
Third person limited. The reader has insight into the thoughts of Sofia, the main character, yet most of the text clearly communicates what others are thinking through their actions, words and illustrated expressions.
- Sofia v. Environment: Sofia’s abuelo gets hurt on a mountain of trash, and she’s determined to get rid of it.
- Sofia v. Town Government: Sofia must navigate town government policies and procedures to enact her solution.
- Sofia v. Self: Sofia faces her own fears to achieve her goal.
- Initiating Change
- Caring for Others
- The Mrs.: Abuelo. He’s such a good role model. Through his actions he shows Sofia what it means to take care of others by delivering groceries and raking leaves for those who can't. He bolsters her courage with cookies and love when he sees she has a mission.
- The Mr.: Sofia. She had no problem talking to everyone and trying to get things changed.
"He blinked back a tear as he hugged his Sofia. 'For courage,' he whispered. 'Te amo, mi vida,'" (Beaty, 2019).
"'Do you have any questions?' Sofia said, 'One. If you were me, and if I was you, and he was your grandpa, what would you do?'" (Beaty, 2019).
Following a sleepless night, Abuelo bolsters Sofia’s courage with a bag full of cookies they commonly share and words of love before she heads off to city hall.
When Sofia navigates city hall, she comes across all kinds of odd departments like the “Office of Duck Ponds and Cool Things to Do.”
About the Author – Andrea Beaty
Likely you’ve read some of her works, whether in meeting the Questioneers (Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist) or in surviving the Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies, Beaty offers a wide array of literary stylings. But what fascinates me is how she got her start. Coming from a computer science and biology background, Beaty offers a unique perspective compared to many children’s book authors. One of her career tasks included being a technical writer. As she read children's books to her son, she realized the conciseness technical writing demands would effectively hold the short attention span of kids. Her first picture book, Iggy Peck, Architect, was inspired by her son.
Andrea Beaty has a passion for inspiring kids to explore their passions, curiosities and interests. She notes that in many of her books it is the adults that change instead of the kids (“Celebrating Curiosity” interview with Reading Rockets via YouTube). To empower parents in inspiring their kids, Beaty suggests making a thinking wall. As curiosities, questions and wonders emerge throughout the week, jot them down and add them to the wall. Then, each weekend, choose one of the notes and work on trying to find a solution to it or spend time exploring it. The most powerful phrase she thinks every parent should frequently utter: “I don’t know. Let’s find out,” (“Science at Home” interview with Reading Rockets via YouTube).
In another Reading Rocket interview (featured on YouTube) Beaty shares tips to budding authors including finding inspiration, recording ideas, and writing in rhyme to name a few. These tips are helpful for child and adult authors alike. For specific advice directed at picture book writers, check out her interview at Cynstations.
A unique element of picture books is the beauty of art merging with words, which Beaty discusses in the interview snippet, “Finding the Right Illustrator,” with Reading Rockets. In picture books, the reader gets to experience the story three times: once through the words, again in the illustrations and a third time in the interplay between the two. The interplay between Beaty’s words and Robert’s illustrations creates a comical and thought-provoking atmosphere in each of the Questioneers’ stories.
About the Illustrator – David Roberts
David Roberts and Andrea Beaty first worked together in Iggy Peck, Architect. For Iggy, Roberts drew all the pictures with only the text; no input was offered from Beaty. And from the illustrations in Iggy Peck, Architect - Ada Twist, Scientist emerged. Among the uniquely drawn students featured in Iggy’s class, one of the girls piqued Beaty’s interest. From then, it was only a matter of time before Ada's narrative in words met the one Roberts' first told in sketch.
It is not surprising that Beaty found inspiration in Roberts’ illustrations, his pictures add intriguing details and comic relief throughout the Questioneer books. For example, Sofia Valdez’s bedroom walls are adorned with posters of Sade and Kahlo, each successful female artists in their own right. Additionally, Roberts quietly questions the town's priorities in an illustration that places a miniscule library next to the immense town hall.
Many of Roberts' eye-catching details likely stem from his background in fashion design. It took living with children’s book authors while studying fashion for Roberts to begin his exploration into illustration. This common link that ties Beaty and Roberts, of becoming someone different than who you set out to be, is beautiful. It’s a message of hope, overcoming adversity, and a testament to the fluid journey that is life.
While Roberts’ interest in fashion remains evident in his works, his success in illustration is undeniable. Roberts has illustrated over 70 children’s books and has co-authored several fairy tale retellings with his sister, Lynn Roberts-Maloney. And, his works are, in my opinion, beyond enjoyable. Roberts has a unique gift of telling his own story within the pictures.
- Author’s Technique – Rhyming; Using adjectives effectively; Changing text features; Appealing to the reader's emotions
- Reading Comprehension - Character development (Using text evidence and illustrative details, describe Sofia’s personality.); Cause and effect; Inferencing (What message does the author/illustrator imply by having silly departments in city hall? A smaller library than the city hall? A child leading while adults come up with the ideas?)
- Social and Emotional Learning – Facing your fears
- Social Studies –Activism (What would your sign say? What steps would you take to go about making a change in our community? Research other “real-life go-getters” or change makers.)
- STEM – Environmental Design (How would you design your park? What do you think they did with Mt. Trashmore?)
Websites to Explore
- Andrea Beaty’s Website - Videos, activities, and resources including a search feature for teachers
- David Roberts’ Tumblr page Find illustrations with captions by the illustrator
Before You Go, We'd Love to Know
- What change would your learner make in your community?
- What office do you think would be hysterical to find in a town hall?
- “About Me.” Andrea Beaty, https://www.andreabeaty.com/about-me.html Accessed 8 Dec. 20.
- “Author Interview: Andrea Beaty on When Giants Come to Play.” 16 Mar. 2007, Cynsations, http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/2007/03/author-interview-andrea-beaty-on.html Accessed 8 Dec. 20.
- Beaty, Andrea. Sofia Valdez, Future Prez. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019.
- “David Roberts & Lynn Roberts-Maloney.” Picturebook Makers, https://blog.picturebookmakers.com/post/149024115721/david-roberts-lynn-roberts-maloney Accessed 8 Dec. 20.
- “David Roberts.” Seven Stories, https://www.sevenstories.org.uk/exhibitions/drawingwords/david-roberts Accessed 8 Dec. 20.
- “David Roberts.” Walker, https://www.walker.co.uk/contributors/David-Roberts-5053.aspx Accessed 9 Dec. 20.
- “Rhyme it right with Andrea Beaty: mini-interview with the Queen of Kid’s Rhyme.” 22 May 2014, Write Kids’ Books, http://blog.writekidsbooks.org/2014/05/rhyme-it-right-with-andrea-beaty-mini.html Accessed 8 Dec. 20.