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

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 engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in...

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NEW KID

From the New Kid series , Vol. 1

Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.

He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan’s a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.

An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269120-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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