By Donna Barba Higuera

Hardcover edition

Publisher Levine Querido Imprint Arthur A. Levine ISBN



In stock


Crime: Theft,Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Drug Use/Abuse,Language: Mild Language,Social Issue: Harsh Realities of Life,Violence: Child Abuse,Violence: Death,Violence: Gun Violence

An astonishing novel with imaginative world-building that holds a mirror to our own for fans of Dhonielle Clayton, Jasmine Warga, and B.B. Alston.

The next stunning novel from Donna Barba Higuera, author of Newbery and Pura Belpré Award-winning The Last Cuentista

This is the story as it was told to me by Leandro the Mighty.

For 400 years, Earth has been a barren wasteland. The few humans that survive scrape together an existence in the cruel city of Pocatel – or go it alone in the wilderness beyond, filled with wandering spirits and wyrms. They don’t last long.

13 year-old pickpocket Leandro and his sister Gabi do what they can to forge a life in Pocatel. The city does not take kindly to Cascabel like them – the descendants of those who worked the San Joaquin Valley for generations.

When Gabi is caught stealing precious fruit from the Pocatelan elite, Leando takes the fall. But his exile proves more than he ever could have imagined -- far from a simple banishment, his consciousness is placed inside an ancient drone and left to fend on its own. But beyond the walls of Pocatel lie other alebrijes like Leandro who seek for a better world -- as well as mutant monsters, wasteland pirates, a hidden oasis, and the truth.

From Donna Barba Higuera, Newbery and Pura Belpré Medal-winning author of The Last Cuentista, comes another novel to astonish us and create a whole new imaginative world, that holds a mirror to our own.

Map. Black-and-white illustrations. 
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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 4-9-Subtle worldbuilding, flesh-and-bone protagonists, and magnetic writing make this sci-fi companion to Newbery Award--winning The Last Cuentista an instant classic. To survive, orphan brother and sister Leandro and Gabi scavenge potatoes for their harsh employers. They are Cascabeles, the descendants of the farmers who worked the lands of the San Joaquin Valley before a disaster wiped out most of the world 400 years ago. They live under the subjugation of the cruel Pocatelans, under threat of exile for any minor infraction, in tent communities and dire conditions, afraid of monsters and starvation. Completely on their own, the siblings have to pickpocket to stay alive. Leandro takes the fall for Gabi when she gets caught stealing, and he is banished. Instead of a death sentence, he is transformed into a hummingbird drone and joins other machines, called alebrijes, named after the mystical creatures sculpted by Oaxacan artists. In his new form, Leandro uncovers a dangerous plot. With measured pacing and layered character development, Higuera's latest is a masterly exploration of how corruption is an indelible part of every oppressive society. It's also a celebration; there will always be a beacon of hope in dark times, fueled by stories and community. There are still reminders of the previous world that serve to remind readers that this society is not too different from our own. The Cascabeles speak Spanish; the Pocatelans speak English. VERDICT This gorgeously written post-apocalyptic novel is a must for every library.-Shelley M. Diazα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Fantasy/Science Fiction Middle Plus (Grades 5-8)

Fantasy/Science Fiction Middle Plus

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