The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera is a juvenile fiction book for 4-8th graders that has won the 2022 John Newbery Medal and the Pura Belpré Awards.
Once upon a time an almost thirteen-year-old girl named Petra Peña, wished to become a storyteller like her abuelita. But fate had other ideas. As Halley's Comet soars toward Earth, Petra and her family are forced to flee in a colossal space ship, where she and the rest of the passengers are put to sleep until their new home can be found.
Hundreds of years later Petra wakes up and realizes that she is the only one who remembers Earth. During her time in stasis, a group known as, the Collective, have taken over with the goal of uniformity and obedience. They have wiped all memories of Earth from memory and those they couldn't make forget, the "purged."
Now Petra is the only one with the memories of life before, can she escape the Collective before her memories are purged as well?
I really enjoyed this book. It was smart and heartfelt and entertaining, all rolled into one. It's got both science fiction and folktale vibes, which I just loved. This book is about knowing where you came from and fighting to become who you want to be.
Petra is a strong female character who understands the power of stories. She longs to make her parents proud but also is prepared to fight to get what she wants and protect those she loves. Petra also has a strong sense of justice but also feels very real and relatable as a character.
This book made me think of The Giver or even 1984 but for kids and I think it would make a really great read for caregivers and kids to read together. The Last Cuentista weaves a story that questions humanity, celebrates diversity and takes the reader on an emotional ride through the stars.
This one gets five stars from me and I can't wait to discuss it with my 4-6th grade book club.
That's all for now!