The Tequila Worm
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The Story Teller’s Bag
A barrio is a neighborhood where many people speak Spanish. In the United States, many Americans with ties to Mexico choose to live in a barrio to stay close to their heritage.
What is different about Clara the next time she comes to visit Sofia and her family ?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word in this chapter you need to look up?
The Candy Bite
The author uses situational irony in the highlighted section. Watch the video on this literary device and then think about how Berta showing up is situationally ironic. (This annotation contains a video)
What did Sofia's mother give her permission to do if Berta put the tips of her finger on the end of her chocolate bar?
The Holy Host
Have you noticed that this isn't a typical story structure? The author is telling her story through a series of vignettes or small scenes. All of these small scenes, when taken together, add up to showcase the life of this young girl growing up in a Mexican family in the United States. Think about the "vignettes" of your life...what would you include to tell YOUR story?
How does telling the story from Sofia's point of view influence the story? Use examples from the story in your answer.
When an author uses a a young narrator along with a first-person point of view, you have to be aware that you are seeing everything through the eyes of a kid. We sometimes call this an unreliable narrator. You can't always believe EVERYTHING he or she says. For example, Sophia thinks the world comes to an end if a nun dies or that she will die if she takes Communion after eating less than an hour before. It makes the story interesting, but you have to be aware of the drawbacks.
The highlighted section contains a literary device. Which of the devices is the one used in the phrase?
Below is a picture of Easter Cascarones. (This annotation contains an image)
How was Lucy's secret egg different from Sophia's?
Skulls And Quarters
Curanderas are very religious and spiritual people. They are considered healers in the Mexican culture - able to heal ailments which modern doctors cannot. Sophia is very curious about curanderas. Below is an illustration of a curandera at work. (This annotation contains an image)
This is the second mention of a tequila worm. As a reader, when you start to see a pattern of an object in a story - pay attention. It is probably important and will come back into the story later.
Which item that Sophia receives is already part of a pattern that may be signficant to the story? Make a prediction about why it could be significant.
Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday focusing on celebrating and praying for loved ones that have died. Many families build small altars with their dead relative's favorite things. It is also an opportunity to come together as a family and community to sing, dance and remember in the cemetary. Below is a picture of a Day of the Dead celebration. It makes a cemetery less scary, doesn't it? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the main emotion Sofia feels having to bring two bean tacos to school everyday?
Life in middle school can be very challenging. Just when you are trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in, a not-so-nice person comes along and decides it for you and announces it to everyone. Thank goodness there are people like Coach Clarke who can intervene and give you a hand when someone has kicked you down. Have you ever felt like Sofia? Did someone ever make you feel bad or make fun of something you wore, brought to school, or did?
The Fancy School
Although the story is told in small scenes of Sophia's life, time has passed chronologically (in time order.) What grade is Sophia in at this point in the novel?
A quinceañeras is a celebration of girl's fifteenth birthday marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. Girls wear colorful full gown dresses and have elaborate hairstyles. Below is an example of such a dress and hairstyle. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Sofia feel about the possibility of attending the fancy school in Austin? Why does she feel that way? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
Sofia is feeling very conflicted between her Mexican-American culture and this unknown "other-world-out-there." This situation/opportunity is creating many different types of conflict for her. Please watch the video below and then think of as many types of conflict Sofia is facing. (This annotation contains a video)
Part One Quiz
My Plastic Tia
There are definitely two signficantly different moods in this scene. While Mr. Weld is jubilant and excited, Sofia is shocked and probably a little fearful. Mood can be different depending on the character perspective. Watch the video below to learn more about tone and mood. (This annotation contains a video)
What theme is apparent with the scene of Sofia going to her godmother's house for guidance?
When something unexpected happens in a story, you need to pay attention. Sofia's godmother announcing that she would be attending the new school when her family shows up is unexpected. Why do you think she does this? And why was it so unexpected to even Sofia?
Based on what you have read so far about the Mexican-American cultural traditions, what does the word comadre mean?
Beans are a large part of Mexican food. They can be found in over 70% of Mexican cooking recipes. Every family has some sort of ritual on how they are cooked and cleaned. They are very important to Mexican culture, and you will often find a pot of beans ready to go on the stove or in the fridge of Mexican-American families. It seems Sofia's family is no exception, and her Papa is the bean sorter of the family! The picture below shows some sorted beans on the right and the ones that are broken and some little rocks on the left. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the highlighted section, how would you describe Sofia's family? Use examples from the text to support your answer.
Sofia's papa finds wisdom in all the little things in life - from beans to fireflies. In everything he does, he teaches a little something to Sofia. When someone in a story shares some advice - think about the life lesson. What is Sofia's papa trying to teach Sofia? Is it really about how to clean pinto beans?
What does Sofia's papa tell her she must do to convince her mother to let her accept the scholarship to go to school?
Here we are seeing a shift in the structure of the novel. In the beginning of the novel, the author used a series of small, unconnected scenes to paint a picture of this Mexican-American family. Now she is telling the story of Sofia's quest to get the blessing of her family to go to St. Luke's through a number of chapters. It will be interesting to see if the author goes back to the vignettes or continues chronologically.
From Sofia's description of Berta's appearance and actions, what can you infer about what is happening to Berta?
This highlighted section showcases Sofia's thoughts about growing up. This is an emerging theme in the novel. With first-person point of view, unless Sophia brings it up, a reader must infer about the theme emerging. Watch the video below on emerging themes. Can you think of any others that could be emerging? (This annotation contains a video)
In what ways is Berta not being very nice to Sofia? Use examples from the text to support your answer.
This is a literary device called hyperbole. It's just a fancy name for exaggeration. We all exaggerate to get our points across. And clearly, Sofia is not interested in all this "girl" stuff Berta is pushing on her.
What is the surprise that Sofia did not know about?
Each quinceañera has rituals that most families follow. The crowning and the replacing of shoes with heels symbolizes the girl entering adulthood. Below is a picture of a young girl receiving her heels from her father. (This annotation contains an image)
The word squishy is an example of what kind of literary device? (hint, say it out loud!)
Private schools often have formal dinners as a tradition. Sofia is very nervous about this aspect of St. Luke's. She is not experienced with that type of setting. Take a look at the picture of a formal dinner setup. Do you know what to do with all that silverware? Would you be nervous if you were in Sofia's shoes? Yikes! (This annotation contains an image)
How is Sofia showing some change in her maturity in this scene?
Can you picture the image of the twenty-foot mountains of clothes in a giant warehouse? Below is a picture of a Ropa Usada. Does it fit with the image the author helped create in our mind? (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize how Sofia got all five of her dresses for St. Luke's.
The Packing Shed
Authors create tension in their novels to keep the action going. Watch the video below and then think about all the ways the author is creating tension in this novel. (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Sofia so stunned as the man leads her to where she is going to work?
Many Mexicans that work in the United States are migrant workers. This means that they are only allowed to be in the U.S. during growing times, when farms need extra workers. Many of them do not want to go back to Mexico and try to find ways to stay. The marriage proposal to Sofia is a young man just trying to stay in this country.
Cucumbers can't be "crazy." This is an example of the author using figurative language. What device is she using?
The canicula isn't a proven thing. It's an old superstition that is convenient for people to use as an excuse for anything and everything. It's like the Santa Ana winds in California, full moons, or Friday the 13th. It's all entertaining, but nothing fact-based.
How would telling the story from Berta's point of view influence the story? Use examples from the story in your answer.
Las Mañanitas is a traditional Mexican birthday song. It's like Happy Birthday. Listen below and follow along with the translated lyrics. Which one do you prefer Happy Birthday or Las Mañanitas? (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz Part Two
Sopapillas are sooooo good. They are fried dough, and you can dip them in honey, chocolate, caramel or whatever sweetness your tummy desires. The traditional Mexican dip is honey. Below is a picture of this heavenly dessert. (This annotation contains an image)
What word best describes the description of Sofia's room at St. Lukes?
At first, Sofia was hesitant about her home altar, but after Brooke acknowledges that she knows about them, she seems to feel slightly better. The altar symbolizes her catholic faith and her Mexican heritage. Sofia is afraid it will also symbolize how different she is from the other girls at the school. But, at least for now, Brooke is helping to make her feel more comfortable. The image below is an example of a home altar. (This annotation contains an image)
Saints At Saint Luke’s
What does Brooke mean by her statement "She's something" to Sofia after Terry leaves their room?
A parvenu is someone who is new to a certain socio-economic class - meaning someone who has just come into money. Terry doesn't seem to be very polite when it comes to asking about Sofia's heritage. And Sofia seems to have entered a whole new world at St. Luke's. But isn't this what she wished for? Do you think Sofia is going to get more of an education in her school classes or in life itself at St. Luke's?
There are some big differences between the life Sofia knows in her barrio and the life at St. Luke's. Describe the differences between the two and then choose one thing you think Sofia misses the most.
Did Sofia have to go away from home to realize how much culture and family means to her? She is definitely seeing the differences in the students' motivation. Whereas, students at St. Luke's seem to focus on getting ahead and standing out, her comadres focus on helping each other. This is an example of the conflict man v. society. Will she be able to honor her upbringing AND succeed at St. Luke's?
How does Sofia deal with Terry's bullying behavior?
The Panty-Hose Baby
Isn't that hysterical and random? This author created a very interesting character with Sofia's mama. You just can't predict what she will do and say next. A Yoda rock paperweight? Hysterical. (This annotation contains an image)
How do the descriptions of Sofia's mama's creations contribute to the development of the theme of family?
It's awfully sweet how Sofia's mother stays connected to Sofia by making her silly things to use in her room. It sounds like Lucy misses her too. But all of their crazy stories and items are making for great writing material for her classes. Do you think this is foreshadowing something in the future? Will Sofia be known for her writing? We can only read on to find out.
The Frozen Tamales
What can you infer from the content in the highlighted sentence? (Remember, inferring is reading between the lines to figure out what the author is really trying to say.) What is she stating about the wealth and the class of most of the parents of St. Luke students?
The plastic Virgin Mary in Sofia's room is called the Lady of Guadalupe. In the Catholic faith, there is a story about how a young boy sees a vision of a woman all lit up, and he runs to tell the bishops. Her image is symbolic of the connection between the Mexican culture and the Catholic faith. Many, many Mexican-Americans have Lady of Guadalupe statues and trinkets in their homes. Below is an example of a statue. (This annotation contains an image)
What is funny about Lucy planning her quinceañera already?
Yuck! Who wants to eat worms? But, it sounds a little like daring your friends to do something. When you all do something scary together, you become bonded by the experience. The author uses this scene to show the close relationship between the three girls. They seem like great comadres to eat worms together, don't they? (This annotation contains an image)
Characters can be static (stay the same throughout the story) or dynamic (changes throughout the story.) From the highlighted section, which character shows that he or she could be considered dynamic?
The Christmas. Nacimiento
Do you see a pattern here? Sofia talks a great deal about stories and storytelling. Abuelita tells a story; Sofia writes a story of waltzing. This is a motif throughout the novel. Watch the video below on motifs and think about how this one is being used in the story. (This annotation contains a video)
Summarize Sofia's mama's plan for the barrio. Why does she believe in her plan? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
Some Mexican nacimientos are very elaborate. Below is an example of one similar to Abuelita's. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Sofia feel about all the rituals and traditions surrounding the Mexican Christmas holiday?
Viejito means an old person in Spanish. Sofia's papa is growing older and has some medical problems.
What important task does Tía Belia give to Sofia?
The highlighted sentence contains a metaphor. A metaphor is a comparison of two seemingingly unlike things that have a common thread that connects them. In the example, Sofia's grief and loss is being compared to the endless dark sea. While they are different, your mind makes the leap to understand how they are connected.
Please describe how Sofia's friends help her to move through her grief. Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
What a beautiful tribute to her father and the other Mexican-American families from her barrio. Sofia seems to have truly learned the value of tradition and family - even from afar. The stories of her papa, mama, sister and comadres will live on through her writing. And she will probably eat a tequila worm from time to time - just to remember...
Part Three Quiz