Sofía Acosta Makes a Scene

by Emma Otheguy (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

A poignant, coming of age story about a Cuban-American girl trying to figure out where she belongs--both in her ballet-loving family and the wider world. Perfect for fans of Front Desk and Merci Suárez Changes Gears.

It's a good thing Sofía Acosta loves dreaming up costumes, because otherwise she's a ballet disaster--unlike her parents, who danced under prima ballerina Alicia Alonso before immigrating to the suburbs of New York. Luckily, when the Acostas host their dancer friends from Cuba for a special performance with the American Ballet Theatre, Sofía learns there's more than dance holding her family together. Between swapping stories about Cuba and sharing holiday celebrations, the Acostas have never been more of a team.

Then Sofía finds out about the dancers' secret plans to defect to the United States, and makes a serious mistake--she confides in her best friend, only to discover that Tricia doesn't want outsiders moving to their community. Now Sofía wonders what the other neighbors in her tight-knit suburban town really think of immigrant families like hers. Sofía doesn't want to make a scene, but if she doesn't speak up, how will she figure out if her family really belongs?

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Kirkus Reviews

Bighearted, nuanced, and insightful.

Publishers Weekly

In a Cuban American family brimming with ballet talent, 10-year-old Sofía Acosta feels obligated to dance well. But unlike her 13-year-old sister, Regina, and younger brother, Manuel, she's drawn not to movement but to costume design. As her family and community prepare to perform The Nutcracker, Sofía attempts to master the hop-step and helps her classmates plan a surprise party for an Irish teacher who recently became an American citizen. Juggling activities, Sofía learns that while best friend and fellow Cuban American Tricia Rivera is happy to assist with their teacher's fete, Tricia responds otherwise to a Cuban dancer's invitation to American Ballet Theatre, saying "immigrants shouldn't just sneak into our country." Soon, Sofía begins to truly notice how subtly her privileged, largely white suburb excludes her family, painting their concerns as about "the character of our community." Otheguy (A Sled for Gabo) centers an immigrant diasporic experience through the lens of a girl working to fit in, and struggling to square her privilege with experiences of intersectional discrimination. Ages 8-12. Agent: Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary. (Jan.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Full of heart and characters that jump off the page. [This is] a unique and honest view into the experience of the Cuban diaspora in the United States from a young protagonist's perspective. It made me care deeply about Sofía as she awakened to issues around her, such as gentrification, privilege, immigration, and history. Timely and necessary. -Yamile Saied Méndez, Pura Belpré-winning author of Furia

From the very first page, I found myself rooting for Sofía as she found her voice and made some good trouble along the way! —Tami Charles, New York Times bestselling author of All Because You Matter and Like Vanessa

"A sensitive portrayal of a Cuban American girl's efforts to become a ballet dancer and an advocate for immigrants." —Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree

"A heartwarming novel about a girl finding her place. The themes of immigration and speaking up for what you believe in are skillfully woven into a story that feels timely and important, but no less entertaining and relatable. I loved watching Sofía grow and discover her strengths and know she will inspire many others." -Hena Khan, author of Amina's Voice and Amina's Song
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date
January 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV031020 - Juvenile Fiction | Performing Arts | Dance
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
JUV030040 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | Caribbean & Latin America
Library of Congress categories
New York (State)
Family life
Social classes
Emigration and immigration
Cuban Americans
Ballet dancing

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