Last Cuentista
by Higuera, Donna Barba

"Hab‚ia una vez...There lived a girl named Petra Pešna, 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 sinisterCollective 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, anyhope for our future. Can she make them live again?"-

<b>Donna Barba Higuera</b> grew up in Central California and now lives in the Pacific Northwest. She has spent her entire life blending folklore with her experiences into stories that fill her imagination. Now she weaves them to write picture books and novels. Donna's first book, <i>Lupe Wong Won't Dance</i>, won a PNBA Book Award and a Pura Belpr&#233; Honor.<br><br><i>The Last Cuentista</i> is her second novel.

With Halley's comet barreling toward Earth, humanity's last hope‚?"including a young Latinx storyteller‚?"retreats into the stars. Only a select few have the opportunity to vacate Earth in the year 2061, travel for 380 years in stasis, and start a new life on the planet of Sagan. Tearing herself away from her grandma and her cuentos, or stories, Petra Pe√Īa follows her family aboard one of three fleeing spaceships. One ship‚?"reserved for leaders and politicians‚?"is lost. Petra awakens years later to find that the ominous Collective has taken over her ship. Along the way to Sagan, the Collective has ensured the eradication of any Earth-associated memories, reprogramming everyone onboard‚?"and purging some‚?"for the so-called greater good. Petra, however, eludes reprogramming. To survive the Collective's fanaticism, Petra must play her part and participate in scouting missions on Sagan to help the Collective prepare for colonization. As she shares cuentos with other child passengers to stir their Earth memories, Petra concocts a plan to escape, seeking a rumored Collective-free colony of First Arrivers on Sagan. With poetic use of startling imagery and unabashed nostalgia, Higuera spins a tale that crosses the depths of space, interweaving Mexican folklore with a mystical strand of science fiction. 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. (Science fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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