Alexandra Alessandri is the award-winning author of Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! (Albert Whitman), Isabel and Her Colores go to School (Sleeping Bear Press), and the forthcoming middle grade fantasy The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía (Atheneum/S&S, 2023). The daughter of Colombian immigrants, she is also a former associate professor of English, a writer for Curriculum Associates, and a poet, with some of her work appearing in The Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, Atlanta Review, and Young Adult Review Network. Alexandra lives in Florida with her husband and son.
Alexandra Alessandri is the author of Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela!, Isabel and Her Colores Go to School, and The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía. Her books have gone on to receive numerous distinctions, including the Florida Book Award, International Latino Book Award, Américas Award Commendable Title, and the ILA 2022 Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award in Primary Fiction.
The daughter of Colombian immigrants, Alexandra is a former associate professor of English, a writer for Curriculum Associates, and a poet, with some of her work appearing in The Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, Atlanta Review, and Young Adult Review Network. She received her BA and MA degrees in English from Florida International University and a Certificate in Fiction Writing from UCLA Extension.
Alexandra’s experience growing up straddling both cultures often influences her children’s fiction and poetry. When not writing or teaching, Alexandra spends her time planning the next great adventure with her husband and son, with whom she lives in South Florida. For more about Alexandra, visit http://alexandraalessandri.com.
- Isabel and Her Colores Go to School won the gold medal in Young Children’s Literature in the 2021 Florida Book Awards.
- Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! won the bronze medal in the 2021 International Latino Book Awards, The Mariposa Book Awards Best First Book, Children & Youth
- Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! won the silver medal in Young Children’s Literature in the 2020 Florida Book Awards.
- The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía won Honorable Mention in SCBWI Florida’s 2021 Rising Kite Awards Middle Grade Fiction category
- “Inheritance” was a finalist in the 2017 Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition
- “Where I’m From” was the winner of the 2017 Finding Home poetry contest, YARN
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Photos by Dawn @ Yap Originals.
The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía
Encanto meets The Chronicles of Narnia by way of Colombian folklore in this middle grade fantasy adventure. To save their father’s life, a brother and sister must journey across a land full of mythical creatures and find the most powerful and dangerous of them all: the madremonte.
Twelve-year-old Valentina wants to focus on drawing the real world around her and hopefully get into art school in Bogotá one day, but Papi has spent his life studying Colombia’s legendary creatures and searching for proof of their existence. So when Papi hears that a patasola—a vampire woman with one leg—has been sighted in the Andes, Valentina and her younger brother Julián get dragged along on another magical creature hunt.
While they’re in the Andes, a powerful earthquake hits. Valentina and Julián fall through the earth…and find an alternate Colombia where, to Valentina’s shock, all the legends are real.
To get home, Valentina and Julián must make a treacherous journey to reach this land’s ruler: the madremonte, mother and protector of the earth. She controls the only portal back to the human world—but she absolutely hates humans, and she’ll do anything to defend her land.
Cover illustration by Dana SanMar
Designer Debra Sfetsios-Conover
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, February 21, 2023
ISBN 13: 978-1665917056
Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
Praise for The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía
Isabel and Her Colores Go to School
English, with its blustery blues and whites, just feels wrong to Isabel. She prefers the warm oranges and pinks of Spanish. As she prepares for class at a new school, she knows she’s going to have to learn–and she would rather not! Her first day is uncomfortable, until she discovers there’s more than one way to communicate with friends. This is a universal story about feeling new and making new friends.
Written by Alexandra Alessandri
Illustrated by Courtney Dawson
Sleeping Bear Press, July 2021
978-1534110632, Bilingual English/Spanish edition
On sale now!
Praise for Isabel and Her Colores Go to School!
“A first-day-of-school story steeped in vibrant imagery…This story affirms the experiences of English language learners while encouraging empathy for others…Readers will root for Isabel and her colorful new beginning.”–Kirkus Reviews. Read the full review here.
“Alessandri and Dawson fill the book with colors, both visually and in the words, which helpfully signal the emotions that Isabel, who loves to draw with an expansive palette, experiences over the course of the day…Pleasantly rounded characters add to the welcoming atmosphere, as does the message that art can bridge divides.”–Sarah Hunter, Booklist.
“This synesthesia-inflected tale helps teach colors while simultaneously buoying those nervous about language barriers.”–Publishers Weekly. Read the full review here.
“This first day of school story beautifully serves as a mirror for children learning English and as a window into their experience for their classmates…VERDICT A bilingual story sure to resonate with ELL students and instill empathy in their classmates.”–Emily Brush, School Library Journal, STARRED 🌟 review! Read the full review here.
As seen on TV:
- NBC10 Boston’s Page Turner: Reads for Returning to a New Normal
- Today in LA / NBC-LA with Daniella Guzman “Children’s Book Helps Ease Back to School Anxiety.”
Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela!
Ava’s excited to say goodbye to el Año Viejo–but will her shyness keep her from joining in the celebration?
Ava Gabriela is visiting her extended family in Colombia for the holidays. She’s excited to take part in family traditions such as making buñuelos, but being around all her loud relatives in an unfamiliar place makes Ava shy and quiet. How will Ava find her voice before she misses out on all the New Year’s fun?
Written by Alexandra Alessandri
Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
On sale now:
Albert Whitman & Company
Jacketed Hardcover with Matte Lamination
Teacher’s Guide: Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! has a teacher’s guide & activity kit!
Praise for Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela!
“This gentle family story lets readers know that shyness is nothing to worry about.”–Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW. Read the full review here.
“The book’s vibrant colors reflect the story’s celebratory mood, and the cartoon illustrations cushion Ava’s struggle with anxiety.”–Booklist. Read the full review here.
“This warm #OwnVoices look at Colombian traditions, including wearing yellow underwear and eating grapes for good luck, is both universal and deeply personal.”–School Library Journal. Read review here.
“The illustrations are bright and colorful, perfect for the lush farm setting of the story.”–Kristin Guay, Youth Services Book Review: Starred review! Read the full review here.
“…a great example of an #ownvoices diverse book that celebrates Colombian culture through a story that all readers can relate to.”–Sarah Bickel, Youth Services Book Review: Starred review! Read the full review here.