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Donna Barba Higuera

Author of The Last Cuentista

8 Works 964 Members 62 Reviews

About the Author

Includes the name: Donna Barba Higuera

Works by Donna Barba Higuera


2021 (6) 2022 (12) AR (14) baseball (15) biracial (11) chapter book (8) children's (15) dystopia (17) dystopian (18) family (26) fantasy (25) fiction (42) folklore (18) friendship (11) future (7) grade 6 (6) humor (9) in back office (7) Latinx (38) memory (15) Mexican American (7) Mexico (6) middle grade (25) multiple copies (7) Newbery (13) Newbery Medal (16) novel (7) picture book (10) realistic fiction (10) science fiction (98) sf (7) space (11) space travel (10) sports (15) storyteller (9) storytelling (31) to-read (49) U-W (7) YA (14) young adult (12)

Common Knowledge

20th Century
Allison Remcheck



Meet Lupe Wong -- a total jock who is appalled that she will be required to learn square dancing in P.E. class. On a quest to earn straight As and get to meet her baseball idol Fu Li (who is also Mexican and Chinese like Lupe), Lupe sees square dancing as lame and a potential grade changer. Armed with a PowerPoint presentation she tries to stop Square Dancing in its tracks. However, in her quest to squash square dancing she is losing sight of what is important? Lupe may have to choose between her “A”, making a difference for her fellow classmates, and being there for her friends when they need her.
The narration in this novel is inclusive and authentic, and the humor is wonderful. I found myself chuckling as I read – got to love the opening sentence: “My gym shorts burrow into my butt crack like a frightened groundhog.”
Lupe is a strong character who doesn’t shy away from challenges or bullies, but she can sometimes be self-centered and steamroll her friends. Lupe grows during the story and her enthusiasm is infectious.
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance is funny and fresh but also addresses the loss of a parent and the importance of family even when school is probably central to a middle schooler’s life.
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AnnesLibrary | 13 other reviews | Jan 28, 2024 |
I had just finished reading this author's Lupe Wong Won't Dance, so I was in for a surprise when I picked this up. I was not expecting a dystopian middle grade novel that I found rather dark (there is brainwashing, "purging" and the destruction of our planet). Higuera asks a lot of her readers - I think some will really enjoy this and others who want something lighter probably not.

Petra Peña who, along with her family and a few hundred others, leave Earth to continue the human race after a comet strikes the planet. After waking, Petra find herself in a dystopian nightmare as she seems to be the only who remembers Earth.

The themes of the novel are pretty straightforward and would appeal to adults and the Newbery committee - not so sure about young readers.
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AnnesLibrary | 35 other reviews | Jan 28, 2024 |
This is probably my favorite cover of all time. I was worried the story wouldn't live up to it... but it did! It was so good. I'm very glad it won the Newbery, because I may not have discovered it otherwise.
Dances_with_Words | 35 other reviews | Jan 6, 2024 |
My hold on the audiobook came in right after this won the Newbery, so I definitely went into it with high expectations. This often leads to disappointment. And...yep. I was not into it. I can't help being more critical when a book has just won the biggest prize in children's literature. But I think even if it hadn't won the Newbery, it would still be a 3-star book for me. Here are some reasons why:

1. Early in the book Petra's dad says, "Equality’s good. But equality and sameness are two different things." This is the main theme of the book. It's also the theme of an absolute banger of a book called [b:The Giver|3636|The Giver (The Giver, #1)|Lois Lowry|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1342493368l/3636._SY75_.jpg|2543234] and this other very excellent book called [b:A Wrinkle in Time|33574273|A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)|Madeleine L'Engle|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1507963312l/33574273._SX50_.jpg|948387]. Does TLC bring some new depth to this theme? IMHO not really. See also: The Borg in Star Trek TNG.

2. The story and characters didn't have much moral ambiguity. The Collective is absolutely bad -- readers are not given any real opportunity to sympathize with them. Petra is absolutely good -- readers are not given any reason to question the morality of her actions. As an adult reader, I thought Petra had no right to decide the fates of the other Zetas. But since Petra is the narrator and she never really questions her own rightness, I wonder if young readers will see her as a hero doing the absolute right thing. (Side note: I don't think sci-fi has to be 100% realistic/believable, but Petra was practically leading the other Zetas to their deaths and there were zero consequences.)

3. Voxy came across like a flat stereotype to me (the rebel prince).

4. I thought the writing was just ok. Many of the similes didn't land right for me. The dream sequences felt tedious to me. I'm saying "for me" because your mileage may vary. I prefer to feel like the author hasn't wasted a single word and this book felt overly long.

Okay, let's wrap up with some positives! I do love a book that calls out other books by name and celebrates the importance of stories. What are humans without stories? This point is very well illustrated. I particularly loved that [b:Dreamers|39651067|Dreamers|Yuyi Morales|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1523445744l/39651067._SX50_.jpg|61220853] played such a big role in this book. It was the perfect book to use. Very well done there.
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LibrarianDest | 35 other reviews | Jan 3, 2024 |



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