“A perfect pick for kids who love Rick Riordan.” —Booklist (starred review) “A winner for all kids, but it will be especially loved by Latinx and Hispanic families.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The Lightning Thief meets the Story Thieves series in this middle grade fantasy inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America.
Charlie Hernández has always been proud of his Latin American heritage. He loves the culture, the art, and especially the myths. Thanks to his abuela’s stories, Charlie possesses an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the monsters and ghouls who have spent the last five hundred years haunting the imaginations of children all across the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Central and South America. And even though his grandmother sometimes hinted that the tales might be more than mere myth, Charlie’s always been a pragmatist. Even barely out of diapers, he knew the stories were just make-believe—nothing more than intricately woven fables meant to keep little kids from misbehaving.
But when Charlie begins to experience freaky bodily manifestations—ones all too similar to those described by his grandma in his favorite legend—he is suddenly swept up in a world where the mythical beings he’s spent his entire life hearing about seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Hispanic folklore and into his life. And even stranger, they seem to know more about him than he knows about himself.
Soon, Charlie finds himself in the middle of an ancient battle between La Liga, a secret society of legendary mythological beings sworn to protect the Land of the Living, and La Mano Peluda (a.k.a. the Hairy Hand), a cabal of evil spirits determined to rule mankind. With only the help of his lifelong crush, Violet Rey, and his grandmother’s stories to guide him, Charlie must navigate a world where monsters and brujas rule and things he couldn’t possibly imagine go bump in the night. That is, if he has any hope of discovering what’s happening to him and saving his missing parents (oh, and maybe even the world).
No pressure, muchacho.
Chapter One CHAPTER ONE Myths, my abuela used to say, are truths long forgotten by the world.
Which is probably why she collected them the way some people collect stamps. Or mugs with pictures of kittens on them. She gathered tales of enormous, horned, snakelike sea creatures, of two-headed vampire dogs with glowing red eyes, of terrifying man-eating ghouls that stalk the night, searching for naughty children to kidnap.
The myths came from all over the Spanish-speaking world. From Madrid to Quito. Mexico City to Buenos Aires. Most of them were hundreds of years old, almost as old as the cultures that had inspired them. Some had spread quickly around the globe, spread like wildfire. Others never even left the tiny rural towns where they’d first been told.
All her life my grandma had been obsessed with Hispanic mythology, with all the legends and stories and folklore, and had spent years teaching them to me.
When I was little we used to hang out in the kitchen on lazy Saturday afternoons, me in my Power Rangers pj’s and chancletas, my abuela telling her favorite tales from memory, making the epic battles and ghoulish monsters come to life with every gesture of her brown and wrinkled hands.
Afterward, she would quiz me on what I’d heard; we played this little game, sort of like Pictionary, where she’d draw a quick sketch of one of the characters, and I would have to guess who—or, in most cases, what—it was. If I got four in a row, she’d let me eat leche condensada right out of the can, which might’ve been the only thing I enjoyed more than listening to her stories.
At the time I thought it was all just for fun, a cool little game between the two of us. But I should’ve known better; my abuela hated party games.
Ryan Calejo is the author of the Charlie Hernández series. He was born and raised in south Florida, where he graduated from the University of Miami with a BA. He teaches swimming to elementary school students, chess to middle school students, and writing to high school students. Having been born into a family of immigrants and growing up in the so-called “Capital of Latin America,” Ryan knows the importance of diversity in our communities and is passionate about writing books that children of all ethnicities can relate to.
"Filled with action with fast-paced chapters, Calejo's novel is sure to draw in readers and introduce them to the magic, beauty, and history of Hispanic myths and legends (many of which are elaborated on further in a glossary for those unfamiliar with the stories). This is a perfect pick for kids who love Rick Riordan's many series, particularly for those eager for mythologies beyond Greek and Roman stories."
– Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*
"He's not the "chosen one"—but the bad guys think he is. Mexican-born, American-raised Charlie Hernández just grew horns. And feathers. It's inconvenient. All of a sudden, all the Hispanic (both Latin American and Iberian) myths he learned from his abuela leave the world of legend and reveal themselves in Miami—and everyone, good and bad, seems to be after Charlie. A winner for all kids, but it will be especially beloved by Latinx and Hispanic families who may recognize some of the characters."
– Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
This magical adventure brings the Hispanic mythologies . . . to life . . . "the detailed attention to various Hispanic folkloric and mythological traditions is accessible to readers new to the legends as well as old hands, and this multicultural story proves to be a satisfying read for anyone interested in fantasy action."
– BCCB, October 2018
"The story is fast paced and jam-packed with many encounters with mythological creatures loosely based on folklore from around the Spanish-speaking world. The glossary at the end is helpful with a description and country of origin for each mythological being. VERDICT A great start to a new series that will be devoured by fantasy fans who enjoy action with ample doses of mythological inspirations."
– School Library Journal, January 2019
Texas Bluebonnet Award 2020-2021
International Latino Book Awards: 2nd Place in Best Youth Chapter Fiction Book, English
Sunshine State Young Readers Award 2020-2021 List for Grades 6-8
Florida Book Awards 2018 Gold Medalist for Older Children's Literature