|Enchanted life of Valentina Mejia
Author: Alessandri, Alexandra
To save their father's life, a brother and sister must journey across a land full of magical beings from Colombian folklore and find the most powerful and dangerous of them all--the Madremonte.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/15/22)
School Library Journal (+) (09/29/23)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (02/00/23)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2023 Featuring an artistic and brave protagonist of Colombian descent, Alessandri’s first novel seamlessly weaves magical and cultural elements into its adventurous narrative. Valentina, 12, dreams of attending art school in her native Bogotá, but when reports of a patasola (vampire woman) reach her papi, Valentina’s life is uprooted again. Determined to prove creatures from folklore are real, Papi takes Valentina and her brother, Julián, to the Andes as he seeks to find the patasola himself. What follows is a tale that mixes folklore with fantasy that plunges Valentina and Julián into an alternate Colombia infested with magical creatures. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they root for the siblings to return to the real world in the face of many dangers. Beautiful prose combines with gripping adventure in this magical ode to Colombia and its legends. Fans of Roseanne Brown’s Serwa Boateng’s Guide to Vampire Hunting (2022) and Zoraida Córdova’s Valentina Salazar Is Not a Monster Hunter (2022) will adore this book, for both its mythic monsters and its plucky heroine. - Copyright 2023 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 09/29/2023 Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Valentina Mejía marvels at how different her parents are: her scientist mother who shares the changes and harm occurring to the Earth's climate and land, and her historian father who could spend all day talking about the myths and legends of Colombia. While Valentina listens, she doesn't really believe like her little brother Julián does. While out in search of a patasola with Papi one day, Valentina feels that something awful is coming, and soon the land is torn open by an earthquake, leaving Valentina and Julián separated from their injured father. As they try to get help, they find themselves in an incredible land where they come across the very creatures from her father's stories. As they make new friends and avoid danger, Valentina and Julián must reach the Queen of this beautiful land, Madremonte, and try to convince her that humans are not dangerous in order to get back to help their father. On this incredible journey, Valentina discovers that these legendary creatures are more a part of her than she could have imagined. Readers will enjoy the adventure and humor in this breathtaking fantasy which depicts not only legendary creatures of Colombia, but also centers this beautiful country's environment, lands, and animals. Alessandri weaves a story that brings attention to the harm and destruction occurring to the lands while also sharing legends that are an important part of Colombia's culture. Readers will enjoy meeting each legend, the sibling dynamic, and watching Valentina grow and embrace the lore her father has shared. VERDICT This magical middle grade novel is an homage both to a country's beauty and its legends, with a fantastical adventure that will leave readers wishing for more.—Selenia Paz - Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.