5 Spanish-Language Middle Grade & YA, Including Quirky Witches, a Spy Manual, and a Mystery Set in Puerto Rico

Add these five Spanish-language works of fiction and nonfiction to your children's and YA collections.

Add these five Spanish-language works of fiction and nonfiction to your children's and YA collections.

Middle Grade

CosiCosa. Entre máquinas inteligentes. illus. by Ana Seixas. 72p. Editorial ­Flamboyant. Feb. 2022. Tr $21.90. ISBN 9788418304255. SP
Gr 3-6
–Kids learn about how intelligent machines, such as cars and toys, work in this high interest title. The narrative also presents the impact these machines have on our lives. It begins with a chronological treatment of how and when inventions were first constructed, from 280-220 AD—with the invention of the first automatic camera—until 2016, when The Kitty AI animated film was created. Made by the artist Pinar Yoldas, the work humorously imagines a future where artificial intelligence takes over politics and an AI kitten becomes the first non-human ­governor in the year 2039. The book continues with explanations on what makes a machine “intelligent.” It also explores the differences between artificial creations and human beings, and how these inventions can affect us in positive and negative ways. The highly visual format is attention-grabbing, and the infographics make it super engaging. The bright pinks, oranges, and teals may detract some readers, but the busy format and palette could entice non-STEM fans. Back matter includes a glossary, several bibliographies, and references. VERDICT A dynamic package that will pique the interest of scientists, inventors, and kids who thought they were not interested in either.

García, Sylma. La niña que llegó del mar. 75p. Editorial Destellos. Jun. 2022. pap. $12. ISBN 9781732073173. SP
Gr 4-7 –Mariana, a curious girl who lives in Puerto Rico with her family and her yellow kitten, has grown accustomed to hearing helicopters around her neighborhood, which sometimes scare her. One night, awakened by these helicopters, Mariana’s father explains that people from Haiti and the Dominican Republic sometimes arrive on the nearby beach. They are immigrating to Puerto Rico for a better life for their families. Unfortunately, the helicopters carry police who search for these refugees to send them back to their home country. One day, when she arrives from school, Mariana discovers a girl hiding in her house. The girl speaks a different language, and her name is Sophie, but Mariana calls her the girl who came from the sea. What follows is a moving story in which Mariana and Sophie create a touching friendship while Sophie hides from those who want to get her out of the island. Mariana learns the challenging and sad realities of Sophie’s life. The difficult but realistic ending points to the strength of enduring friendship. VERDICT This poignant novel tackles immigration with great heart.

Isern, Susanna. Malvarina: Quiero ser bruja. illus. by Laura Proietti. 116p. ­Editorial Flamboyant. Mar. 2022. pap. ISBN 9788418304668. SP
Gr 2-5
–This whimsical story follows ­Malvarina, a girl who has a great desire to become a witch. The valley where ­Malvarina lives is a very haunted one. The governors are three extremely evil witches full of dangerous spells. The town’s residents fear and do not dare to approach them. Although Malvarina understands that witches are not welcome where she lives, she curiously has a great desire to be like them. The book has colorful illustrations, with lots of oranges, purples, and blacks. Readers eventually get to know Cornelia, Clius, and Moss and the three kittens that accompany them. What follows is the story of how Malvarina becomes a witch with the help of the sisters, from her wardrobe to her magical tricks and pet. The interactive book contains questions prompting readers to guess different things, such as which cat belongs to which of the sister witches. Filled with many laugh-out-loud moments, this book is super fun. VERDICT An animated and highly illustrated middle grade tale with a plucky heroine, this book will bewitch readers.

Nesquens, Daniel. Manual para espías. illus. by Mathias Sielfeld. 64p. ­Editorial Flamboyant. Feb. 2022. Tr $21.90. ISBN 9788418304439. SP
Gr 3-6
–A tongue-in-cheek primer on spycraft. The cute book, full of excellent and colorful illustrations, explains that to be a spy, readers do not need to follow the usual rules, such as dressing in an elegant jacket, wearing an English mustache, or carrying a leather suitcase with magic tricks. No, it’s time to reject that stereotype for good. Full of humor, this book explores what it’s like to be a real spy, and begins with definition of every type of spy. It also offers readers spying techniques, such as what it is to secretly watch in person, and how to infiltrate any dangerous and secret situation where you have to be the hero. The spy communication section delineates the most efficient ways to communicate in this world. It also includes profiles of spies from the past and how they came to be successful. The illustrations are jovial with a palette of teals, blacks, and oranges. Every spot is filled, with no white space. And oddly, the spies are presented as undercover anthropomorphized animals. The quirky art also features infographics, varied fonts, and sidebars, which adds interest. VERDICT A great choice where books by Tanya Lloyd Kyi are popular and where high interest nonfiction is needed.



Marrero, Yarimar. Los secretos de La Torre. 268p. Editorial Destellos. Dec. 2021. pap. $14. ISBN 9781732073197. SP
Gr 6-10
–Adrián, Luna, Alberto and ­Camila become embroiled in a mystery plot during a visit to the University of Puerto Rico. The young people live in Barrio Buen Consejo, and during their visit to the university, they encounter El Velorio, which ­Francisco Oller painted with ­upside-down images. The story has elements of fantasy and magical realism that come together with a narrative about the realities of life on the island and at the University of Puerto Rico. In this immersive adventure, the group of friends get swept into a parallel world. The novel is influenced by the Puerto Rican Baquiné tradition, a part religious, part festive event that marks the death of an innocent child as a joyful event rather than one to mourn, as the child will now become an angel in heaven. Marrero also works in discussions of the politics and difficult realities that play an important role on the island. The teens not only uncover the mystery of the painting but also discover themselves in this magnetic book. VERDICT An unforgettable, mystical novel for all shelves.

Aurora Dominguez is an educator and journalist in Hollywood, FL.

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