Middle Grade Novels


Knopf Books for Young Readers | Penguin Random House
(September 7, 2021)
Illustrations by Dana Sanmar

A 2022 Américas Award commended title and hailed as one of the best books for kids by Entertainment Weekly and People Magazine , LOTERIA is an exploration of free will vs fate packaged as an enthralling magical realist adventure.

It is the hottest hour of the hottest day in Oaxaca City when Life and Death walk into town, ready to begin a new game of la Lotería. But first, they need a pawn, a child whose fate will be determined by the winner of the game: a long and prosperous life or an untimely death. Fate finds this child in a robin-egg blue house, tucked beneath a massive jacaranda tree. And so, the game begins.

Every card reveals a new twist in Clara’s fate: a tree, a scorpion, a fateful arrow, a mermaid, a deer, a treacherous rose. But Clara knows none of this. All she knows is that her cousin Esteban has vanished, and she’ll do whatever it takes to save him, traveling to the mythical Kingdom of Las Pozas in her search. And although it seems her fate was sealed as soon as the cards were dealt, Clara just might have what it takes to shatter the game and choose a new path.

Educational Resources

  • Discussion Guide – download discussion questions to help you explore and analyze the text more deeply. Help students meet several Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
  • Lotería Game Board – download and print your own Lotería boards and instructions
  • Lotería Cards – download and print your own deck of Lotería cards.
  • Activities – download Juan’s Extra Special Chocolate Caliente recipe, a translation crossword, and some super fun trabalenguas (tongue twisters)!
  • Tips for Young WritersTwo Ways to Hook Your Readers and Make Your Story Irresistible
  • Inside Peek into the Making of the Cover (illustrated by Dana Sanmar)

Interviews, Webinars, and Fanfare

Glowing starA magical, philosophical tale rooted in Mexican lore that will hold readers from beginning to end with its verdant language and setting.”
– School Library Journal

Glowing star“From the first line of this philosophical debut, Arenas Valenti demonstrates a gift for interweaving immersive, sensory-rich storytelling with a thoughtful discussion of fate vs. determinism.”
– Publisher’s Weekly

Glowing star “Clara’s unexpected decisions lead to the story’s heart: ‘Even when you have no choice about what has happened to you, you can still decide what you’re going to do about it.’ The tale is a scaffolding for this debate, and what a lush, verdant scaffolding it is. The story is filled with Mexican imagery, abundant with descriptions of food, flowers, vegetable gardens, forests, markets, and fetes, and especially of the jungle and ornate architecture, spiral stairs, curlicues, and darksome caves of Asrean. Clara’s valor and littleness stand out amidst this lavish context.”
– Horn Book

“In this marvelous blend of magic realism, suspense, and adventure, readers will be rooting for Clara to beat the odds and shape her own destiny. Valenti seamlessly infuses Mexican culture and myth into a spellbinding story that explores free will through a traditional Mexican game.”
– Booklist

“Life and Death’s annual game leaves a girl’s life in the balance as magical realism meets other-world fantasy in this novel set in Oaxaca…Exquisite illustrations greatly enhance the text.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“An enchanting story, rich with riddles, fantastic creatures, mythical lands, and guided by the magic of hope.”
Aida Salazar, award-winning author of Land of Cranes

“Readers expecting our plucky heroine to enact a triumphant rescue… will be surprised at Clara’s choice when the game comes to an end and the players reveal themselves just as all hope seems lost. It’s sure to generate discussion about reader expectations… as well as spark interest in magical realism”
– The Bulletin 

“I clung to every word of Lotería, never wanting this captivating novel to end. Brave Clara will live forever in my heart.”
– Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author

Picture Books

My Super Science Heroes

My Super Science Heroes is a picture book series for children ages 4-9.

Written in partnership with the Marie Curie Alumni Association–a global organization of over 17,000 researchers and scientists–this series highlights key traits and characteristics (super powers!) that all children embody, showcasing how those skills can play a meaningful role in helping people reach their dreams.

Each trait is paired with a specific scientist who flexed that super power to great effect in their own life. Our hope is that children will be inspired by these super science heroes, to draw on their own super powers in pursuing their goals.

Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence

Wonderful publisher: Sourcebooks (April 2020)
Amazing Illustrator: Annalisa Beghelli
Brilliant science consultant: Micaela Crespo Quesada, PhD.

The first book in the My Super Science Heroes series explores key moments in Marie Curie’s life that demonstrate the power of persistence and how it played an important role in helping her discover Radium and Polonium.

In her super science hero story, Marie must rely on this persistence to defeat her arch nemesis, Mr. Opposition.

In this way, Marie Curie represents an important role model for girls and boys who face their own version of Mr. Opposition.

Educational Resources

Marie Curie Activity Kit

Experiment  Guide (40 pages of science fun!)

My Super Science Heroes

(shop, science experiments, interviews and more!)

Alan Turing and the Power of Curiosity

Wonderful publisher: Sourcebooks (March 2021)
Amazing Illustrator: Annalisa Beghelli
Brilliant science consultant: Micaela Crespo Quesada, PhD.

The second book of the series looks closely at key moments of Alan Turing‘s life that highlight his great power of curiosity, and how this power was critical to his ability to decode and solve important questions of his time (and in the process, lay the groundwork for artificial intelligence).

In his story, Alan Turing must face off against the elusive Miss Enigma, whose task is to confound and confuse him every step of the way.

Educational Resources

Discussion Guide (writing prompts, content connections for teachers, art activities, discussion questions, and more)

Experiment  Guide (40 pages of science fun!)

My Super Science Heroes

(Shop, science experiments, interviews and more!)

Picture Books

Esperanza Caramelo

Knopf 2023

Katherine Harrison at Knopf has acquired at auction world rights to Espernaza Caramelo by Lotería author Karla Arenas Valenti illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor artist Elisa Chavarri. In the vein of the Nutrcracker or Doña Flor, this is a tale of spun-sugar ornaments come to life and cake catastrophe averted on the eve of Nochebuena. Publication is scheduled for fall 2023; Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary represented the author, and Claire Easton of Painted Words represented the illustrator.

Maria Mariposa

Chronicle 2023

Feather Flores at Chronicle has acquired World rights to Karla Arenas Valenti’s Maria Mariposa, a lyrical, bilingual story about a young girl who receives a gift from her home in Mexico, on her first day of school in the United States—and how she finds a way to share the magic of that gift with all those around her. Ana Ramírez González will illustrate; publication is set for fall 2023. The deal was managed by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency for the author, and Andrea Morrison at Writers House for the illustrator.


Exciting announcement to come soon!