Loteria by Karla Arenas Valenti is a fantastical gem, drawing on the magical realist tradition of fiction to craft a compelling world. Every year in Oaxaca, Mexico, Life and Lady Death breeze into town to play a high-stakes card game that will determine the fate of one chosen person. This year, that person is Clara, an 11-year-old to whom fate has already dealt unlucky cards: her aunt is dead and her cousin soon disappears. To get him back, Clara must journey into Aztlán, a mythical realm that’s equal parts Narnia and the ancestral home of the Aztecs. The book’s gorgeous language and philosophical meditation about fate vs. free will set this novel apart. (Chapter Books)