An exquisite tonic for storytellers far and wide, young and old.

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THE LAST CUENTISTA

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 Peña 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)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64614-089-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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DRAMA

From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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