One Book Day 2023: The Last Cuentista

“Each story, each person is different.
Messy sometimes. But colorful, mismatched, and beautiful.”
—from The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera


A new Saint Ann’s tradition continued this month as Upper Middle School students debated, wrote stories, and contemplated intergalactic travel in the school’s second annual One Book Day. Run jointly by the library and the Upper Middle School office, the event revolved around The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera, the sci-fi page turner and winner of the 2022 Newbery Medal, the highest award in children’s literature. Every sixth, seventh, and eighth grade student received a copy of the book prior to the event.


One Book Day kicked off with an in-person keynote speech from Higuera, who spoke about the genesis of the book and how she used Mexican folktales passed down from her grandmother to illustrate how stories connect us all—one of the novel’s key themes. Afterwards, Upper Middle School students fanned out across the campus to attend their choice of over thirty different workshops. Led by new and veteran faculty from almost every department—and assisted by some eager high schoolers—the sessions tackled issues ranging from disability justice and peer pressure to the history of Halley’s Comet and nutrition in space (including samples). Workshops also included puppet making, sci-fi writing, an exploration of AI, and a session on Carl Sagan’s’ Golden Record. At the end of the day, we reconvened as a group for a Moth-style storytelling event. Students who developed stories in one of the day’s workshops (which were co-led by High School students) told their true stories for the very supportive and engaged group—once again celebrating the importance of stories. The day itself was a story of dedicated and engaged readers of diverse ages, interests, and backgrounds coming together to share perspectives and knowledge—and a book.