cover image The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía

The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía

Alexandra Alessandri. Atheneum, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-665-91705-6

Colombian 12-year-old Valentina “Vale” Mejía would rather spend her summer working on her art portfolio for the Bogotá Academy of Arts than searching for a patasola in the Andes with her folclorólogo father and younger brother Julián, who still believes in the Colombian myths and legends their father tells them. When they get caught in a sudden earthquake, their dad falls into a crevice and is injured. While trying to get help, Vale and Julián stumble upon a mysterious cave that leads to a fantastical version of Colombia seemingly straight out of their father’s stories. The siblings journey across the Land of the Forgotten—through a brujita’s magical house, an armadillo’s cozy burrow, and a village of playful duende—to the castle of the Madremonte, protector of the land, keeper of the only portal back to their world, and known for disliking humans. Vale’s pragmatism paired with Julián’s effervescent sense of wonder helps them to navigate a world full of danger and magic. Through their adventures, Alessandri (Isabel and Her Colores Go to School) expertly weaves an immersive tale bursting at the seams with folklore, enchantments, and spirit. Ages 8–12. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary. (Feb.)