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“A magical, philosophical tale rooted in Mexican lore.” —School Library Journal, starred review
In the hottest hour of the hottest day of the year, a fateful wind blows into Oaxaca City. It whistles down cobbled streets and rustles the jacaranda trees before slipping into the window of an eleven-year-old girl named Clara. Unbeknownst to her, Clara has been marked for la Lotería.
Life and Death deal the Lotería cards but once a year, and the stakes could not be higher. Every card reveals a new twist in Clara’s fate—a scorpion, an arrow, a blood-red rose. If Life wins, Clara will live to a ripe old age. If Death prevails, she’ll flicker out like a candle.
But Clara knows none of this. All she knows is that her young cousin Esteban has vanished, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save him, traveling to the mythical Kingdom of Las Pozas, where every action has a price, and every choice has consequences. And though it seems her fate is sealed, Clara just might have what it takes to shatter the game and choose a new path.
Karla Arenas Valenti weaves an adventure steeped in magic and mythology—gorgeously illustrated by Dana Sanmar—exploring the notion of free will in a world where fate holds all the cards.
Dana Sanmar is a Colombian illustrator and graphic designer currently established in Atlanta, USA. Her love for illustration started from a early age due to her parents' love for books. And her early exposure to arts and crafts by her mother nourished her love for creating things by hand, while her dad showed her how to work with different materials and the importance of being resourceful. Following these influences, she got a B.F.A in Graphic Design in her home country. She recently graduated from her M.F.A in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design and currently works a a freelance Illustrator.
“Clara’s unexpected decisions lead to the story’s heart: “Even when you have no choice about what has happened to you, you can still decide what you’re going to do about it.” The tale is a scaffolding for this debate, and what a lush, verdant scaffolding it is.” —The Horn Book, starred review
“From the first line of this philosophical debut, Arenas Valenti demonstrates a gift for interweaving immersive, sensory-rich storytelling (“Life sauntered into town on a wave of heat”) with a thoughtful discussion of fate vs. determinism. Fans of Coco will savor this tale and Sanmar’s occasional illustrations, which visualize Clara and Esteban’s journeys and the Lotería cards as the game progresses.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The magical realism employed adds a warmth and imaginative quality to the world-building that is only enhanced by the rich feast of language Valenti offers up . . . A magical, philosophical tale rooted in Mexican lore that will hold readers from beginning to end with its verdant language and setting.”—School Library Journal, starred review
“[A] spellbinding story about fate versus free will.” —People Magazine
“Lotería packs a heavier punch than most middle-grade offerings with its meditations on the consequences of our choices and the inevitability of our mortality.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Inspired by the Mexican card game, la Lotería, “Lotería” is a children’s fantasy book also inspired by the author’s Mexican heritage . . . With whimsical illustrations from Dana Sanmar, “Lotería” instills the resilience and the power of having faith.” —L.A. Parent
“In this unforgettable story, the beauty and mystery of Mexican lore is put in the spotlight. Clara's strength and care for others shines through the pages of the story, making Lotería a heartwarming read that is sure to stay with the readers long after they've turned the last page.” —Common Sense Media
“Karla Arenas Valenti's debut middle grade novel is packed with action. Combining Día de los Muertos imagery, Mexican folklore and the game of Lotería, readers will follow Clara on an adventure of fate.”—Tiny Beans
“This coming-of-age tale and one of the best kids books . . . . is a magical and engaging novel that will keep kids eagerly turning the page.” —Daily Mom
“In this marvelous blend of magic realism, suspense, and adventure . . . Valenti seamlessly infuses Mexican culture and myth into a spellbinding story that explores free will through a traditional Mexican game.” —Booklist
“Vibrant and gloriously textured, grounded by Sanmar’s simple, inviting grayscale illustrations . . . [Lotería is] sure to generate discussion about reader expectations and what constitutes a happy ending, as well as spark interest in magical realism.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Rich with Hispanic culture, magical realism, and imagination, Lotería is a profound story in reminding Hispanic girls of their power and determination.” —Her Campus
“Combining magical realism and a celebration of Mexican culture, Karla Arenas Velenti’s novel introduces readers to Clara, a girl desperate to save her missing cousin and caught up in a game of fate. If you loved Jumanji or Karuna Riazi’s The Gauntlet, you’ll love this fantastical middle-grade with dazzling illustrations.” —The Young Folks
“I clung to every word of Lotería, never wanting this captivating novel to end. Brave Clara will forever live in my heart.” —Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author
“An enchanting story, rich with riddles, fantastic creatures, and mythical lands, and guided by the magic of hope.” —Aida Salazar, award-winning author of Land of The Cranes