"Sophie the toad, the wart-covered sapo,
was fea -- so ugly. Her brother was guapo...
Her brother -- hermano -- had dozens of trophies.
They sat on the mantel, not one of them Sophie’s!"
Sophie finds out that, she, too, is good at something and proves it to herself when she wins her first trophy.
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3–Sophie is a homely toad, while her brother is so cute that he has won numerous modeling trophies. She is sad and croons about her feelings in such a beautiful voice that she is soon welcomed into a singing group. One night, she performs a solo in a competition and wins her very own trophy. The story is told in rhyming couplets and quatrains. Elya punctuates the English verses with well-integrated Spanish words that suit the tale's rhythm. Most appear next to an English equivalent while a few are integrated into sentences. The terms are presented in bold type and defined in a glossary with pronunciation guides. Many, like día and feliz , will be familiar to non-Spanish speakers and others, like pestañas (eyelashes), are less common. The acrylic artwork is as playful as the writing; it's big, bright, and active. The toads are drawn as large circles with skinny limbs, spots, and bulging eyes. Colorful images and amusing details fill the spreads. A fun read-aloud. –Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK
PreS-Gr. 2. Sophie the wart-covered toad lives in the shadow of her cuter, more accomplished brother, Vince (the prince). Vince's trophies span the mantel, while Sophie dreams of greatness and sings the blues. Then the Toadettes convince her to sing a solo at the fair, and the judges are so impressed that Sophie wins first prize. The author of Cowboy Jose (2005) offers another picture book featuring vivid, cartoonlike illustrations and humorous rhymes that seamlessly mesh English and Spanish vocabulary. Young listeners are sure to identify with Sophie's desire to be good at something, even as they giggle at her silly dreams: "Her mouth--her big boca--was too tired to smile. ^B/ She was fed up with posing and strutting her style. / 'Well, this is no fun!' Then Sophie awoke. / 'Me, be a model? Why, I'd rather croak.'"^B A satisfying choice for group sharing or for lap sharing with frustrated younger siblings. Kay Weisman
This tale of two toads told in rhyme incorporates Spanish words into the story. "Sophie the toad, the wart-covered sapo, was fea-so ugly. Her brother was guapo. His toad warts-verrugas-were cuter and smaller." In fact, Sophie's brother is the best-looking in the bog with a mantle full of awards to prove it. Even though Sophie dreams of being a model too, it's her singing about her sorrows that leads to fame and her first trophy. The comic illustrations of the green blimpish, bug-eyed (a la Tedd Arnold) toads exaggerate the goofiness. Underscoring the message of self-worth, this combination of Spanish vocabulary, American Toad Idol and wartful whimsy is a "hoppy" tale that kids will relate to and chuckle over. And what kid hasn't coveted a trophy? Useful and fun in either a classroom or home venue.