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8 Nov

Have you read Lotería by  Mario Alberto Zambrano?


You really should. It is a distressing story, but so beautfully written. It is an adult book, although I did end the title to the committee responsible for selecting the Alex Awards, which are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.
With her older sister Estrella in the ICU and her father in jail, eleven-year-old Luz Castillo has been taken into the custody of the state. Alone in her room, the young girl retreats behind a wall of silence, writing in her journal , Luz tells the story of her family’s tragic demise using the a deck of Lotería cards.

That got me wondering about books for younger readers based on Lotería. I found 2.

The simplest is The King of Things/ El Rey de las Cosas by Artemio Rodriguez.


In this bilingual (Spanish/English) very early reader, Little Lalo receives inspiration from the famous Mexican lotería game. Since Lalo is the King of Things and three years old besides, he plays the cards and counts as his possessions the sun, the moon, a lion, a fish, a clown, a train, the crown on his head. Each card in Lalo’s kingdom has its own page, illustrated with a playful brightly colored woodcut.

A second picture book about Lotería is Playing Lotería/El Juego de la Lotería by Rene Colato Lainez.


This bilingual book is about the relationship between a grandmother who speaks little English and her grandson who speaks little Spanish and the game of Loteria (similar to Bingo), which is widely played in Mexico. The boy is sent to spend time with his grandmother to learn Spanish, but the boy ends up teaching his grandmother English as well.

I haven’t discovered a good middle grade novel centered around Lotería, but I’m still looking. Let me know if you know of any.

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