Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural, a children’s book by Reading Rock Stars author Raquel M. Ortiz, tells the story of a young girl, Sofi, who uses her imagination to travel into a mural she sees on her walk home from the bodega, teaching kids about music, dancing, and Puerto Rican culture. You can buy the book on BookPeople’s online store on Bookshop.org (make sure you choose BookPeople as the beneficiary!), and Raquel sent along these learning materials to help you and your kids read along with the book, learn more about the process of writing and illustrating the book, and even dance along!
Author and educator Raquel M. Ortiz shares pre-reading activities for her Sofi picture book with second graders from Public School 250. This includes a plena demo by Dr. Drum and a PowerPoint presentation on the mural that inspired the Sofi picture book. The presentation ends with the author and students learning and singing the three songs found in the Sofi picture book accompanied by music by Dr. Drum.
New York City Department of Education teaching artist Dr. Drum explains the history of the music genre of plena, the national Puerto Rican music. He also introduces the two instruments used for the plena, the pandereta and the güiro, and plays plena beats for second graders from Public School 250 and Public School 257.
Author Raquel M. Ortiz, New York City Department of Education teaching artist Dr. Drum, and second graders from Public School 250 and Public School 257 sing the three songs found in the Sofi picture book: “Tocotoco,” “Vejigante está pintao,” and “La plena que yo conozco.” A bonus feature is the vejigante who makes a guest appearance for one of the songs.
New York City Department of Education elementary teacher Humberto Soto, dressed up as the vejigante from Sofi and does a recap of the story with second graders from Public School 250 and Public School 257. Soto also answers questions about the story, explains what a vejigante is, and sings and dances for the students.
Artist María Domínguez explains the creative process behind illustrating the Sofi picture book. Domínguez also talks about the community mural El Pueblo Cantor (Bronx, 1996) that she designed with students from Intermediate School 193 and shows original art and marquettes she created for El Pueblo Cantor.