Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Summary: Sofía has always taken being part of a ballet family somewhat for granted. Her parents were both members of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba before immigrating to New York, and both her older sister and younger brother are at the tops of their classes. By fifth grade, though, Sofía is starting to realize that her talents lie more with costume design than with dance, and she worries that she’s not living up to her family’s expectations. She’s also starting to notice some anti-immigration sentiment as a variety of issues unfold around her: new affordable housing in the neighborhood, her teacher from Ireland who’s just become a US citizen, and a young friend who’s considering defecting from Cuba to dance with the American Ballet Theater. As the days count down to the big Nutcracker performance, her teacher’s surprise party, and her Cuban friend’s decision, Sofía has to decide how and when to speak up for what’s important to her. 288 pages; grades 4-6.
Pros: Readers will enjoy the chance to become part of Sofía’s warm Cuban-American family that always has room (and good snacks) for any friends or family who want to visit. Sofía is realistically portrayed, worried about her friends and her place in her family as she gradually becomes more aware of the larger world around her.
Cons: I was sorry that Sofía never had a talk with her aunt who wasn’t into ballet and who sometimes, like Sofía, seemed to feel overshadowed by her talented older sister.