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Cousins in the Time of Magic

Illustrated by Poly Bernatene

About The Book

Three cousins get transported back to 1862 to play an important role in the Battle of Puebla, the reason we celebrate Cinco de Mayo today, in this enchanting middle grade fantasy adventure.

History is alive with magic. That’s what zany Tía Xia is always telling cousins Jorge, Camila, and Siggy. Daredevil Jorge couldn’t be more different than his cousins: Camila is a dreamer who adores animals and Siggy is an aspiring influencer who has an exclusive party to attend. And their aunt has many secrets, including a mysterious diamond-encrusted sword that Jorge definitely wasn’t supposed to see.

But when the three stumble upon a time portal in their aunt’s yard, they are transported back to 1862, a past filled with wonders—and dangers. To return to the present, they must race to deliver the sword to General Ignacio Zaragoza in time for the historic Battle of Puebla in Mexico: the foundation of the holiday Cinco de Mayo.

As their journey to Mexico takes them through the Civil War–era United States, the cousins see just how much US history has been shaped by Latin communities. They must find the power within themselves to make sure things happen as they’re supposed to, without altering the past.

About The Author

Photograph Emma Otheguy

Emma Otheguy is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture books A Sled for Gabo and Martina Has Too Many Tías, the bilingual picture book Martí’s Song for Freedom, and the middle grade novels Sofía Acosta Makes a SceneCousins in the Time of MagicSilver Meadows Summer, and, with Adam Gidwitz, The Madre de Aguas of Cuba, part of the Unicorn Rescue Society series. Visit her at

About The Illustrator

Poly Bernatene was born in 1972 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has been drawing ever since. He graduated from Buenos Aires’s art school, where he developed a great interest in managing different techniques in his work. He has worked in advertisement, animation, and comics. During the last fifteen years, he has established an exciting career as a professional illustrator, having published more than sixty children’s books in eleven countries.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 25, 2025)
  • Length: 240 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665915205
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12

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Raves and Reviews

“In the rollicking, informative, and moving pages of Cousins in the Time of Magic, Emma Otheguy balances history, adventure, and political activism with a sure, deft hand. A delightful book that’s sure to become a timeless classic!”—David Bowles, award-winning author of They Call Me Güero

Cousins in the Time of Magic wraps hidden history in a fascinating, fast-paced adventure full of cousin shenanigans, time travel, and danger. I couldn’t put it down!”—Kate Messner, award-winning author of the History Smashers series

Cousins in the Time of Magic is perfect for readers in search of adventure steeped in history. You will laugh. You will learn. But most importantly, you will cheer for this trio as they discover untold histories and reveal the true meaning of family.”—Tami Charles, New York Times bestselling author of All Because You Matter

“A heartfelt adventure that’s filled with hope, history, and the importance of family.”—James Ponti, New York Times bestselling author of the City Spies series

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More books from this author: Emma Otheguy

More books from this illustrator: Poly Bernatene