5 Spanish Intermediate and YA students including quirky witches, spy manual and Puerto Rico mystery game

Add these five works of fiction and non-fiction in Spanish to your children’s and YA collections.

Intermediate level

CosiCosa. Between intelligent machines. illus. by Ana Seixas. 72p. Flamboyant editorial. February 2022. Tr $21.90. ISBN 9788418304255. PS
3-6 g
–Children discover how smart machines, such as cars and toys, work in this very interesting title. The story also presents the impact of these machines 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 AI Kitty animated film was created. By 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 2039. The book continues with explanations of what makes a machine “intelligent”. It also explores the differences between man-made creations and human beings, and how these inventions can affect us in positive and negative ways. The highly visual format grabs attention and the infographics make it very appealing. The hot pinks, oranges, and teals may detract from some readers, but the busy format and palette might appeal to non-STEM. The cover includes a glossary, several bibliographies and references. VERDICT A dynamic package that will pique the interest of scientists, inventors and kids who thought they weren’t interested in one or the other.

Garcia, Sylma. La niña que llegó del mar. 75p. Editorial Destellos. June 2022. pap. $12. ISBN 9781732073173. PS
4-7 Gr –Mariana, a curious girl who lives in Puerto Rico with her family and her yellow kitten, has become accustomed to hearing helicopters in her neighborhood, which sometimes scares her. One night, woken up by these helicopters, Mariana’s father explains that people from Haiti and the Dominican Republic sometimes arrive on the nearby beach. They immigrate to Puerto Rico for a better life for their families. Unfortunately, the helicopters carry police officers who are looking for these refugees to send them back to their country of origin. One day, when she arrives from school, Mariana discovers a girl hiding in her house. The girl speaks a different language and is called Sophie, but Mariana calls her the girl who comes 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 get her off the island. Mariana learns the difficult and sad realities of Sophie’s life. The difficult but realistic ending underscores the strength of an enduring friendship. VERDICT This poignant novel tackles immigration with a lot of heart.

Isern, Suzanne. Malvarina: Quiero ser bruja. illus. by Laura Proietti. 116p. Flamboyant editorial. March 2022. pap. ISBN 9788418304668. PS
2nd-5th grade
–This whimsical story follows Malvarina, a girl who has a strong desire to become a witch. The valley where Malvarina lives is very haunted. The Governors are three extremely evil witches full of dangerous spells. The townspeople are scared and dare not approach them. Although Malvarina understands that witches are not welcome where she lives, she oddly has a strong desire to be like them. The book has colorful illustrations, with lots of oranges, purples and blacks. Readers come 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 magic tricks and her pet. The interactive book contains questions that challenge readers to guess different things, such as which cat belongs to which witch sister. Filled with many moments of laughter, this book is super fun. VERDICT A lively and highly illustrated middle-level tale with a brave heroine, this book will spellbind readers.

Nesquens, Daniel. Manual for spías. illus. by Matthias Sielfeld. 64p. Flamboyant editorial. February 2022. Tr $21.90. ISBN 9788418304439. PS
3-6 g
–An ironic introduction to espionage. The cute book, full of excellent and colorful illustrations, explains that to be a spy, readers don’t need to follow the usual rules, like dressing in a smart jacket, sporting an English mustache, or carrying a leather suitcase. leather with magic tricks. No, it’s time to cast off this stereotype for good. Full of humor, this book explores what it’s like to be a real spy and begins with a definition of each type of spy. It also offers readers spy techniques, such as what it’s like to secretly watch in person, and how to infiltrate any dangerous and secret situation where you need to be the hero. The spy communication section describes the most effective ways to communicate in this world. It also includes profiles of past spies and how they succeeded. The illustrations are cheerful with a palette of teals, blacks, and oranges. Each dot is filled in, with no white space. And curiously, the spies are presented as undercover anthropomorphic animals. The original art also includes infographics, various fonts, and sidebars, which adds interest. VERDICT An excellent choice where Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s books are popular and high-interest non-fiction is needed.

Marrero, Yarimar. The secrets of La Torre. 268p. Editorial Destellos. Dec. 2021. pap. $14. ISBN 9781732073197. PS
6th to 10th grade
-Adrián, Luna, Alberto and Camila become embroiled in a mysterious plot during a visit to the University of Puerto Rico. The young people live in the Barrio Buen Consejo and, during their visit to the university, they meet El Velorio, which Francisco Oller painted with upside-down images. The story contains elements of fantasy and magical realism that combine 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 are drawn into a parallel world. The novel is influenced by the Puerto Rican tradition of the Baquiné, an event that is both religious and festive which marks the death of an innocent child as a joyful event rather than one to grieve, as the child will now become an angel in heaven. . Marrero also works in discussions about politics and the difficult realities that play an important role on the island. Teenagers not only discover the mystery of 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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