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The Last Cuentista Hardcover – Oct. 12 2021

4.5 out of 5 stars 863 ratings

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From the Publisher

“Clever and compelling … wonderfully subversive.” – The Wall Street Journal
A quote from the The New York Times Book Review

Product description


"[STAR] “A strong, heroic character, fighting incredible odds to survive and protect others.”— School Library Journal (starred),


"[STAR] “Gripping, euphonious, and full of storytelling magic.”— Publishers Weekly (starred),


"[STAR] “Higuera spins a tale that crosses the depths of space, interweaving Mexican folklore with a mystical strand of science fiction.”— Kirkus (starred),


""The brilliance of Higuera’s narrative is that it shows rather than tells us the power of story. As Petra shares her tales and they guide her shipmates out of darkness, readers will find corners of their own hearts illuminated as well. This book is gripping in its twists and turns, and moving in its themes — truly a beautiful cuento.” — New York Times,


""Clever and compelling … wonderfully subversive.” – The Wall Street Journal,


"“The Last Cuentista is heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once, and centers family, community, and the oral histories that keep us together.”—,


?"Science fiction blended with Mexican folklore. If you leave Earth in the knowledge that you can never return, what will you want to take with you? 12 year old Petra Peña chooses her grandmother’s stories. But on board her spaceship a fanatical Collective is bent on creating a utopia by erasing everyone’s memories and purging those they are unable to reprogramme. If we make a new society by forgetting what we have left behind, will we know what it is to be human? A novel about the importance of remembering stories and passing them on, and of creating our own stories." —Five Books

"The Last Cuentista is a beautiful middle grade story of a young Latina who must leave a no longer inhabitable Earth and learns the importance of adapting. Although this is a middle-grade dystopian novel, it is poetically magical while honoring the storytelling of our ancestors and Mexican folklore. The story is fun, vibrant, and relatable. Captivating the reader to partake in a voyage of unforgettable cuento (which means ‘story’ in English of what it means to adapt, believe, and find one’s self." — Al Dia News

"“Readers will find in The Last Cuentista a promise that the past is not the enemy of the future, but a gift that grants the perspective to meet that future with compassion and bravery.”  — Bookpage,


"[STAR] “Pura Belpré Honor-winning author Donna Barba Higuera (Lupe Wong Won't Dance) deftly blends Mexican folklore with science fiction in this thrilling and emotional post-apocalyptic novel.”—Shelf-Awareness (starred),


""A beautifully told story of what makes us human." — Minneapolis Star Tribune,


""Petra Peña is twelve when she and her family board one of the last ships leaving Earth just before its imminent destruction by comet. As the remaining Earthlings struggle to survive, all of the cuentos — stories — Petra grew up listening to will turn out to be more powerful than she could have imagined in this thrilling and hopeful work of science fiction."— Boston Globe,


""Truly good children’s books engage and entertain while also helping young readers come to understand themselves and the complicated world they live in. The best picture, middle grade and young adult books of 2021 deftly rise to that challenge, telling stories about identity, allyship and more... Donna Barba Higuera’s The Last Cuentista asks kids to consider the danger of adopting dogmatic beliefs without questioning authority figures."  — Time Magazine,


About the Author

Donna Barba Higuera 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, Lupe Wong Won't Dance, won a Sid Fleischman Award for Humor and a Pura Belpré Honor.

Her second novel,
The Last Cuentista, received the John Newbery Medal and the Pura Belpré Award. It was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and TIME.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Levine Querido (Oct. 12 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1646140893
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1646140893
  • Item weight ‏ : ‎ 553 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.11 x 2.79 x 21.72 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 863 ratings

About the author

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Donna Barba Higuera grew up in a tiny desert town in central California surrounded by agricultural and oil fields. Her favorite childhood activities were calling the library's dial-a-story over and over again and sneaking into a restricted pioneers' cemetery to weave her own spooky tales using the crumbling headstones for inspiration. Donna's Middle Grade and Picture books reinvent history, folklore and her own life experience into compelling storylines.

Donna lives in Washington state with her family, three old dogs and one frog.

For info on all her books and educational guides visit

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
863 global ratings

Top review from Canada

Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on January 5, 2023
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Storytelling
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 9, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Storytelling
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 9, 2022
This was highly recommended in “Bookmarks” magazine so I ordered it an put it aside. When their latest issue named it one of the best books of the year I had to start it and, well, I couldn’t agree more. Absolutely engrossing from beginning to end and I was shedding (happy) tears at the end. I hope more adults give YA books a chance as they honestly have some of the best storytelling around these days. Hollywood needs to option this one as I think it would make a terrific movie. I also want to compliment the publishers, Levine Querido of Chronicle Books, LLC, for the quality of the physical book and the attention to detail in the cover art on the jacket and the book itself. Gorgeous! I usually donate finished books to little lending libraries in my complex or at the park but this one is staying in my library. Pass the word—this one needs more attention from readers.
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42 people found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in over a decade
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 15, 2022
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Mr Kaiju
5.0 out of 5 stars An important and engrossing read
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 8, 2021
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23 people found this helpful
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LA in Dallas
4.0 out of 5 stars The Earth destroyed and stories saved
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 10, 2022
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12 people found this helpful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book - but two errors not worthy of more than a brief mention in an Amazon review
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 26, 2022
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10 people found this helpful
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