Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty

Values: Courage, Determination, Perseverance, Kindness and Equality.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez is an uplifting, empowering picture book for children everywhere. It comes from the same series as Ada Twist, Scientist; Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer - all of which are stories to inspire boys and girls that they can go into careers in Maths and Science. I have shared Rosie Revere, Engineer in a whole school assembly to which all of the children were rapt.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez is a tale of a young girl who spends time with her grandfather (Abuelo) helping their local community, whether this be raking leaves or visiting elderly neighbours. She takes joy in helping others, as does Abuelo and she loves doing these jobs as much as she loves spending time with him. Unfortunately, one day Abuelo gets injured at the local landfill site (aptly named Mount Trashmore as it is sky-high with waste). Sofia is outraged and upset, and decides to do something about it. She gathers support from the local community to turn Mount Trashmore into a park for everyone to enjoy, and despite being nervous, faces the adults at City Hall where she is shunted between rooms until finally she faces the clerk... who declares she cannot do it as is she only a child. Sofia does not give up and in the end, the whole neighbourhood enjoys the park she proved she could campaign for.

This book is in the UKLA Longlist for 2021 and rightly so. It is a story full of the Value of courage. Sofia was anxious about standing up in front of the professionals in City Hall, but with the encouragement of Abuelo and her friends, she faced her fears. She spoke up for something she was passionate about despite being told she was too young, and proved she could make a change.

Another Value you could easily discuss would be perseverance or determination. Sofia knows that it takes just one person to make a difference, and she keeps going despite setbacks. She is only in Grade 2 in this book, and even when she is told she cannot campaign to turn the landfill into a park, she keeps going. She does not lose her temper or blame being a 7 year old girl, but speaks calmly and firmly until adults listen. You could talk about how some famous people were told they could not achieve what they wanted - J. K. Rowling, Einstein, Greta Thunberg etc - and how they persevered to fulfill an end goal.

Kindness examples can easily be extracted from this book. Sofia and Abuelo show great kindness to their neighbours when delivering goods, walking pets and spreading happiness. Sofia also shows great kindness when listening to everyone's ideas for the park and trying to incorporate them all to show everyone that they can be heard. You could look at leaders in different settings - sports, schools, politics, books etc - and discuss whether good leaders show the Value of kindness, and whether kindness helps somebody to be viewed as a good leader.

Lastly, I would use this book as a good example of equality. Equality of age, gender, experience and race. Sofia is at first dismissed purely on the basis of her age, but she proves this should not matter if you have the willingness and courage to fight for what is right and create change for the better. There can be many discussions around equality and what this really means. You could even flip the question and talk about inequality: Why are some laws/rules made which are not equal? For example, why can nobody under the age of 18 vote? Do we always need equality?

I really enjoyed the empowering, joyful message of the book and the way the title page and endpapers are created on squared paper. I think it is fantastic to have more books with female protagonists which are based on careers that have been traditionally done by men. I also enjoyed the way emotions are weaved seamlessly through the story so that Sofia is not portrayed as an invincible, unflappable hero, but one that does feel scared and nervous and yet still goes on to achieve great things.

If you fancy getting hold of a copy for yourself, Blackwell's stock it! They are a fantastic bookshop and often have deals on. At the moment, it has £3.61 off this book (21st October 2020)!

You can also follow the author on Twitter - @andreabeaty - as well as @The_UKLA and you can find other blog posts of mine which feature these Values by clicking on the hashtags below: