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Mythological Fantasy, Adventure, and Traditional Mexican Card Game Combine in Spellbinding Read for Young Readers

Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Magical Fantasy Read From Another Culture

Magical Fantasy with a cultural twist

Magical Fantasy with a cultural twist

Fantasy, Myths, and Philosophical Ideas in Adventurous Read for Ages 8-12

The Mexican card game la Loteria is the inspiration for Karla Arenas Valenti's fantasy and myth-filled adventure Loteria. The philosophical ideas of life and death are entertwined in this intriguing read for ages 8-12.

Clara is an 11-year-old girl who is swept up in the adventure of a lifetime when her cousin Estoban vanishes. A mysterious wind swept through the streets of her town one day and the adventure was about to begin. Magical events are about to begin. Clara is unaware that she has been marked by the card game la Loteria to undergo an untimely death. Each card from the deck has a meaning. A tree, scorpion, arrow, and a mermaid are all part of the deck of cards for this game. The most important part of this adventure will be to find her missing cousin Estoban. Clara must travel to the mythical kingdom of Las Pozas to search for her missing cousin. Clara is determined to find him. Valenti takes the name of the mythical kingdom from the Spanish word "pozas" that is connected to the card game.

If Life wins in this adventure, Clara will live a long life. Young readers will find this to be a page-turner to discover Clara's fate and to learn the fate of her missing cousin.

Dana Sanmar contributed her talents as an illustrator to Valenti's Loteria. Loteria was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House Children's Books. It is recommended for ages 8-12 and has an ISBN of 9780593176962.

Bring Loteria Into the Classroom for Adventurous Reading Activities

Teachers who teach reading for ages 8-12 will find Karla Arenas Valenti's Loteria to present a wealth of opportunities for teaching about Mexican culture, fantasy and myths, and a bit of philosophy about life. Students enjoy stories that originate from other cultures. Many teachers celebrate Mexican history every year and having a fun read such as Loteria adds to the possibilities of learning about Mexican culture.

*Read Loteria as a group or assign to individuals as a book to be included on your reading list for students.

*Call attention to the magic that begins when the wind blows down the street in Clara's town. This signals the beginning of the adventure.

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*Engage students in learning about the traditional Mexican card game la Loteria. This card game is similar to Bingo and the cards can be purchased on Amazon. Provide traditional pinto beans for markers to play the game.

Rules for Game:

1. Shuffle the deck of cards. The caller picks one card at a time and calls out the name to the players. Each card as an image and number, but the number is mostly ignored.

2. Players cover the images on their card as they are called. Player to achieve a "bingo" shouts "Buena" after completing their card.

*Create a list of all of the names of the images on the cards. These can be used to teach vocabulary words in Spanish. Engage students in a discussion of some of the philosophical meanings behind the images. This can be an interesting research project for your class after reading Valenti's Loteria.

A Bit of History of the Mexican Card Game Loteria

History is always a fun part of learning about a culture. The history of the Mexican card game is a fun side trip of learning after reading Karla Arenas Valenti's Loteria.

"Loteria" is the Spanish word for lottery. The game is composed of 54 cards. each image on the cards has an assigned number. The game originated in Italy and was brought to New Spain (Mexico) in 1769. It was originally played by the upper classes in Mexico, but is now enjoyed by everyone.

Examples of the pictures and the meaning of each are ones that are featured in Valenti's story. Number 10 for "el arbol" (the tree). "He who nears a good tree, is blanketed by good shade." This is an example of the philosophical twists throughout the story. Number 31 for the arrow: "The arrows of Adam the Indian strike where they hit." Number 40 for the scorpion: "He who stings with his tail, will get a beating." These images are a part of the philosophical twists in Valenti's story and adventure that Clara experiences.

© 2021 Cindy Hewitt

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