Title Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls
Author Kaela Rivera
Age Recommendation 8-12 yrs
Publisher Harper Collins

 

“Because if I was doing the right thing, if I was following all the goodness I believed in, that was good enough.”

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In the small town of Tierra del Sol, where powerful spirits called criaturas roam the desert, only brujas can control them. The city is terrified of them, and they work hard to protect themselves from their evil. When the dark and powerful criatura, El Sombrerón, kidnaps her older sister, Cece’s quest begins. She must enter Death Valley to get her sister back, but not without learning forbidden magic first. Brujeria is a crime in Tierra del Sol, but Cece is determined to get her sister back no matter the cost.

 

This book is spectacular, full of magic and unlikely friendships.

 

Cece encounters wonderful characters, both dark and light, but it’s Coyte who stole our hearts. She is brave, curious, and a little stubborn; best of all, she’s relatable. Readers can’t help but cheer her on.
Layered with a beautiful message about family and friendship, including the turmoil that can occur. It’s also about learning to be who you are or, in Cece’s case, who you feel you are meant to be, even when it means going against what society tells you.

In the small town of Tierra del Sol, where powerful spirits called criaturas roam the desert, only brujas can control them. The city is terrified of them, and they work hard to protect themselves from their evil. When the dark and powerful criatura, El Sombrerón, kidnaps her older sister, Cece’s quest begins. She must enter Death Valley to get her sister back, but not without learning forbidden magic first. Brujeria is a crime in Tierra del Sol, but Cece is determined to get her sister back no matter the cost.

 

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls is an excellent introduction to Mesoamerican folklore and Aztec mythology for young readers through a cast of unforgettable characters and is in rich culture.

 

Sprinkled with Spanish words throughout and are usually immediately translated, but if you need extra help, there is a glossary in the back.
If you are a fan of mythology, move beyond the typical Greek and Roman characters you might be familiar with to expand your shelf with this vibrant tale.
It might leave you with a craving for buñuelos, and lucky for readers the author, Kaela, has shared a recipe for them here. Readers can go beyond the book and make a special connection to the page Turing adventure through food.
The fantastic worldbuilding and fast pace will keep young readers captivated with each page turn.

 

Find more middle grade books here.

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