The turn of a card could change your destiny in this captivating middle grade adventure based on the Lotería card game and perfect for fans of Coco. While searching for her missing cousin, a young girl is transported to a mythical kingdom, becoming entangled in a perilous game of chance.
“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.
"And so it was that the fate of a child... hung on a pile of beans and a deck of cards." In Oaxaca City each year, Life and Lady Death come together for 36 hours to play Loter a, a game of chance that will decide the future of one human being without their knowledge or consent. After arriving on a hot summer day, Life and Lady Death let loose their magic, which chooses as its next target Clara, a steadfast 11-year-old who draws fantastical creatures. But when the consequences of the game and grief drive Clara's eight-year-old cousin Esteban to enter the perilous Aztl n through a nopal cactus, Clara must go after him and face dangerous obstacles awakened by the Loter a cards to keep a promise. 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 Loter a cards as the game progresses. Ages 8 12. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary.