From Pura Belpré Honor–winning author Adrianna Cuevas comes Mari and the Curse of El Cocodrilo, a new middle grade novel about a young Cuban American girl who must fight to break a curse of bad luck set upon her by El Cocodrilo when she rejects her family’s traditions.
If Mari Feijoo could, she would turn her family’s Peak Cubanity down a notch, just enough so that her snooping neighbor and classmate Mykenzye wouldn’t have anything to tease her about. That’s why this year, there’s no way that Mari’s joining in on one of the big-gest Feijoo family traditions—burning the New Year’s Eve effigy her abuela makes.
Only Mari never suspects that failing to toss her effigy in the fire would bring something much worse than sneering words at school: a curse of bad luck from El Cocodrilo. At first, it’s just possessed violins and grade sabotaging pencils, but once El Cocodrilo learns that he becomes more powerful with each new misery, her luck goes from bad to nightmarish as the curse spreads to her friend Keisha.
Instead of focusing on Mari’s mariachi band tryout and Keisha’s fencing tournament, the pair, along with their friend Juan Carlos, are racing against the clock to break the curse. But when Mari discovers her family’s gift to call upon their ancestors, she and her friends will have to find a way to work with the unexpected help that arrives from the far corners of Mari’s family tree. Only will it be enough to defeat El Cocodrilo before he makes their last year of elementary school the worst ever and tears their friendship apart?
About the Author
Adrianna Cuevas is the author of the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, Cuba in My Pocket, The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto, and Mari and the Curse of El Cocodrilo. She is a first-generation Cuban American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides outside of Austin, Texas, with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, wrangling multiple pets including an axolotl, and practicing fencing with her son, she is writing her next middle grade novel.
"Dynamic action scenes rendered in vivid detail bring Cuevas’ imaginative (and terrifying) interpretation of Cuban cultural traditions to life. Strong plotting, high stakes, and the curse’s evolving rules of engagement make this a satisfying page-turner. A delightful horror novel with emotional and cultural resonance." — Kirkus Reviews
"This book will not only captivate readers with its fantasy elements, it will leave them deeply touched by the characters and their adventures." — Booklist
"Strong tween friendships, tight-knit familial bonds, and an emphasis on taking pride in one’s roots round out this eerie supernatural adventure." — Publishers Weekly
“A creepy, magical adventure, bursting with culture and folklore." — Eden Royce, author of the Walter Dean Myers Award honoree Root Magic
“A book that is in turn scary, silly, and soulful (pun totally intended).” — Lora Senf, Stoker-nominated author of The Clackity
“A must-read for fans of nail-biting creepiness, (peak) Cubanity, and pastelitos de guayaba!” — Karla Arenas Valenti, author of Lotería
“Deftly weaves together a fun, spooky story, filled with slimy bugs, creepy curses, and mariachi music. A creepy adventure with a heartwarming message about family.” — Ally Malinenko, author of This Appearing House
“Hits the perfect note for fans of spooky middle grade fiction, combining spine-tingling chills and a big heart. An absolute treat to read!” — Lisa Stringfellow, author of A Comb of Wishes
"Although the text deals with heavy themes, Cuevas keeps a light tone and inserts moments of humor. Readers will relate to Mari’s self-consciousness and fear of change in her friend group." — Horn Book Magazine