The Last Cuentista

by Donna Barba Higuera (Author)

The Last Cuentista
Reading Level: 6th — 7th Grade

Había una vez . . . There lived a girl named Petra Peña, who wanted nothing more than to be a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra's world is ending. Earth has been destroyed by a comet, and only a few hundred scientists and their children - among them Petra and her family - have been chosen to journey to a new planet. They are the ones who must carry on the human race. Hundreds of years later, Petra wakes to this new planet - and the discovery that she is the only person who remembers Earth. A sinister Collective has taken over the ship during its journey, bent on erasing the sins of humanity's past. They have systematically purged the memories of all aboard - or purged them altogether. Petra alone now carries the stories of our past, and with them, any hope for our future. Can she make them live again?

Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Donna Barba Higuera presents us with a brilliant journey through the stars, to the very heart of what makes us human.


Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

It all works thanks to the author’s keen appreciation of storytelling’s role in shaping cultures, dreams, and lives. An overall slow burner, this tale packs a wallop. An exquisite tonic for storytellers far and wide, young and old. 

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

An aspiring young storyteller with retinitis pigmentosa discovers that she's the only one who remembers life on Earth after waking up 380 years in the future in this suspenseful speculative novel. In the year 2061, a solar flare has altered the course of Halley's Comet, putting Earth and its inhabitants right in its trajectory. Twelve-year-old Petra Peña, a resourceful Mexican American preteen who longs to follow in her cuentista grandmother's footsteps and tell stories for a living, successfully boards one of the last ships off-world--as do members of a dangerous, cultlike group called The Collective. When Petra awakens centuries later at the ship's destination, she quickly realizes that The Collective has wiped the memories--or lives--of her fellow passengers, and she must use her wits and Mexican folklore to protect the remaining humans and avoid the same fate. Through Petra's gut-wrenching, tenderly crafted narrative arc, author Higuera (Lupe Wong Won't Dance) explores how story can awaken empathy, hope, and even resistance in an audience. This is the work of a true cuentista: gripping, euphonious ("The wind carried it off far away into the stars"), and full of storytelling magic. Ages 10-14. Agent: Allison Remcheck, Stimola Literary Studio. (Aug.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 5 Up-The magic and power of stories and storytelling help a preteen in a terrifying future. In 2061, with Earth about to be destroyed, 12-year-old Petra Peña and her scientist parents and younger brother Javier are just barely aboard the ship that will take them to the planet Sagan when a group of zealots called the Collective, wanting absolute equality at the expense of any diversity, take over. Almost 400 years later, Petra is one of the last four "sleepers" revived, and the only one who somehow retains her memories of Earth. She uses the stories her family shared and a precious copy of Yuyi Morales's Dreamers to try to save the others in her cohort, her newly rediscovered brother, and what seems to be the last Collective child. Life on the ship, made even more claustrophobic by Petra's declining vision from retinitis pigmentosa, and filled with the translucent, drugged Collective, is particularly chilling. Mexican American Petra is a strong, heroic character, fighting incredible odds to survive and protect others. The ending leaves the door wide open for a sequel. VERDICT A keep-you-up-all-night, compulsively readable science fiction novel that offers much food for thought.

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Donna Barba Higuera
Donna Barba Higuera creció en California central y actualmente vive en el noroeste del Pacífico. Ha pasado toda su vida mezclando el folclore con sus experiencias para crear las historias que llenan su imaginación. Ahora, las combina y se convierten en libros de cuentos ilustrados y novelas. Lupe Wong no baila, el primer libro de Donna, ganó el Premio de la PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association) y el Premio Pura Belpré. La última cuentista es su segunda novela.

Aurora Humarán es traductora pública de inglés graduada de la Universidad de Buenos Aires en 1982. En 2005, recibió el diploma de correctora internacional de textos en español expedido por la Fundación Litterae-Fundéu. En sus 40 años en la profesión se ha especializado en traducción legal, de marketing y en literatura para niños y YA. Tradujo A long walk to water de Linda Sue Park, best seller de The New York Times para HMH; If I built a car de Chris Van Dusen para Penguin; la serie Carver Chronicles de Karen English para HMH, entre otros libros. Desde 2011 es miembra correspondiente de la Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española. Es fundadora y actual presidenta de la Asociación Internacional de Profesionales de la Traducción y la Interpretación.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781646140893
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Levine Querido
Publication date
August 20, 2021
Series
-
BISAC categories
JUV053000 - Juvenile Fiction | Science Fiction
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV012030 - Juvenile Fiction | Fairy Tales & Folklore | General
JUV059000 - Juvenile Fiction | Dystopian
Library of Congress categories
-
Newbery Medal
Winner 2022
Pura Belpré Youth Award
Winner 2022
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Selection 2022

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