Donna Barba Higuera on Following the Storytelling Traditions of Her Family
This Week on the NewberyTart Podcast
Each week on NewberyTart, Jennie and Marcy, two book-loving mamas (and a librarian and a bookseller, respectively), read and drink their way through the entire catalogue of Newbery books, and interview authors and illustrators along the way.
In this episode, Marcy and Jennie talk to Donna Barba Higuera, author of The Last Cuentista, winner of a 2022 Newbery Medal and a 2022 Pura Belpré Medal.
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From the episode:
Donna Barba Higuera: I did have storytelling in my family, very much so. I always liked stories. I liked to write. I never felt like I would ever have as much charisma and character as my grandmother. We don’t even realize sometimes when we’re writing books, authors don’t, by the end, we’re like, wow, I was trying to deal with something or digest something, or this is in some ways autobiographical. Some novels I’ve written I don’t feel that way—I don’t so much with Lupe—but for sure here, I felt like I got to have this moment again with my grandmother. When Petra has these flashbacks with her family, those are things that could be me or could be me with my grandparents or parents or me with my own children.
NewberyTart is a podcast about kids’ books, for adults, and is recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, by two friends who approach the Newbery thing from very different, but surprisingly complementary, directions. The show is edited by Harper W. Harris of Strange World Sounds. The music was written and performed by Alan Thornton of the Throckmorton Ukulele Band. Graphic design was provided by Liz Mytinger, who was not at all daunted to be asked to add glasses and eyelashes to anthropomorphic blueberries.
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.