Donna Barba Higuera: The Last Cuentista (Levine Querido 2021)
Many, many years ago, a fiery snake was born from the love of the Earth and the Sun. Growing up, the snake was angry at his father for not caring for him, so he decided to destroy him. However, he failed to achieve his goal and his father’s brightness blinded him during his close orbit, then escaped his gravity to return to Mother Earth, with whom he was never able to reunite again. Since then, once every 75 years it passes by the Earth as a fiery plume, but never meets it. Except now…
In 2061, Halley comet is headed straight for Earth due to a change in its trajectory and there is a fear of destroying it. The people escape in three spaceship, which only certain people can board. Petra’s parents are scientists, so they got a place on the second ship. Their goal is Sagan, which they will reach in 380 years, spending their time in stasis. However, Petra does not wake up to the world she expected.
The story shows what makes us human and how important roots and beautiful memories are. For me, the main lesson was that nobody should do bad things not even for the good cause. Usually, I don’t like sci-fi books, but this one grabbed me so much that it became one of my best reads this year. And how does folklore fit with science fiction? As the past fits with the future.
Donna Barba Higuera grew up in Central California, surrounded by agricultural and oil fields. As a child, she preferred to spend her time reading. The protagonists of her middle grade books often struggle with cultural differences. She was awarded the Newberry Medal and the Pura Belpré Award, The Last Cuentista is her second book.