The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía

Available now!

Written by Alexandra Alessandri
Cover illustration by Dana SanMar
Designer Debra Sfetsios-Conover
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN 13: 978-1665917056
Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
Release date: 2.21.23

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.

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Where to purchase

Support your local indie! The following indie bookstores currently have copies on hand; purchase from them and receive a signed bookplate and bookmark (while supplies last):

You can also receive a bookmark with your book, when purchasing from the following (while supplies last):

If you’re looking for other indie bookstores who carry the book, check out:

Otherwise, The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía is available wherever books are sold, including:

Cover video created by Simon & Schuster

Resources for The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía

TeachingBooks has great resources, including Meet the Author, Story Map Lesson, Cultural Representation Reflection, Fairy Tales/Folklore Lesson, and more.

Simon & Schuster has provided a wonderful reading group guide, written by Cynthia Medrano, Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and committee member of Rise: A Feminist Book Project.

Praise for The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía

“With the action beginning on the first page, this fast-paced adventure set in a well-realized world will keep readers on their toes. Modern kids meet traditional tales with thrilling results.”Kirkus Reviews, STARRED 🌟 review! Read the full review here.

“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.”–Aurora Dominguez, Booklist

“Alessandri expertly weaves an immersive tale bursting at the seams with folklore, enchantments, and spirit.”–Publishers Weekly. Read the full review here.

“An adventurous journey that is by turns bone-chilling and joyful.”–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. Read full review here.

“Alessandri embeds Colombian folklore into a thrilling tale that centers sibling relationships, eco-justice, border crossing, and intergenerational family wounds. Readers who love mythology, adventure, and suspense will root for Valentina as she embarks on her hero’s journey.”–The Horn Book. Read full review here.

“Vale’s such an appealing protagonist—a kid who loves her family and wants to be an artist—thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Along with the vividly realized Colombian-inspired setting, swiftly paced storytelling, and satisfying plot resolution connecting present and past, it makes for a rewarding fantasy adventure.”–Cooperative Children’s Book Center | Book of the Week. Read full review here.

“This non-stop adventure filled with mythological creatures and magical lands will excite readers and keep them turning the page.” –Adrianna Cuevas, author of Pura Belpré Honor Book THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ and CUBA IN MY POCKET

“An absolute gem of a book that kept me on the edge of my seat. Readers will cheer this plucky Colombian girl as she navigates dangers, learns how the magical world connects to our own, and chooses kindness even at personal risk. The ending made my heart soar! Truly enchanting!” —Rebecca Balcárcel, author of Pura Belpré Honor Book THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY and SHINE ON, LUZ VÉLIZ!

“An exceptionally well-crafted story brimming with mythological creatures, captivating characters, and non-stop adventure. A wonderful book to be read by all!” —Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Edgar award-winning author of CONCEALED.

“The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía is a fast-paced, epic adventure in a vivid, magical world. Readers will love rooting for Valentina to overcome her obstacles as they devour this enchanting tale.” —Joy McCullough, award-winning author of A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST and ACROSS THE POND.


The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía in the Wild!

Awards & Nominations

The Enchanted Life of Valentina Mejía won Honorable Mention in SCBWI Florida’s 2021 Rising Kite Awards Middle Grade Fiction category

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