Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!
If you follow me on any of my platform, you know that I’ve gotten into and fallen in love with middle grade this year (which was one of my goals, so yay!), and THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ reinforced that love for me. It follows a boy who talks to animals as he tries to solve the disappearance of some of them in the forest and well as defeat the witch responsible for it. It’s fun, funny and so heartfelt with some important themes mixed in there. Now I will shut up and leave you with my interview with Adrianna Cuevas, the author of the book, to convince you that you need to pick it up.
Nestor has the ability to understand and communicate with animals, what are some of the funniest or most memorable encounters he’s had with them?
Nestor would definitely rank way down at the bottom the time he got lice and had hundreds of annoying voices shouting at him all day and night. The deer, raven, and rabbit who tried to give him advice for the first day of school and told him to fart in front of his entire class would probably not be one of his favorite interactions either. But Nestor’s raven buddy Cuervito who rains down poop on the town bully definitely has a special place in his heart.
(Fadwa: The lice one sent me in a fit of giggles when i read it in the book)
If you could have powers, what are the top three you’d choose from and why? would talking to animal be one of them?
I love this question because it’s exactly the type of thing my son asks me all the time and that ended up being one of the big reasons I wrote Nestor. I don’t think I would pick being able to talk to animals since I really don’t want to hear my cat’s constant demands for more food and her complaints about how terrible the dog is. I’d pick teleportation, for sure, because I love seeing and experiencing new places but the cost of travel is gross. If there was a superpower that manifested Cuban coffee and guava pastelitos any time I snapped my fingers, I’d definitely want that. My final superpower would be the ability to have first drafts simply appear on my computer, no matter how terrible. I love revising and can fix anything, but I’d rather listen to my son explain the intricacies of Minecraft for ten hours than write a first draft.
Nestor moves a lot due to his dad’s job, so the meaning of Home is a major theme in the story, why was that so important for you to write about?
I started writing Nestor after moving from a place I had lived for 15 years where I did not feel at home at all as a latinx person with progressive views. I hadn’t realized how micro-aggressions and feeling disjointed from the place you live could slowly chip away at your well-being until I left. Also, my son had just moved into his fifth home in five years due to job changes and housing issues in our family. That kind of transience had taken a toll on him and also made me explore the concept of what it takes for someone to truly feel at home in my book.
The book ends on such a hopeful note. So I wanted to ask, keeping it spoiler free, what kinds of adventures would Nestor and his friends be up to?
They are definitely capitalizing on Nestor’s ability to win animal trivia competitions and I have no doubt in my mind that at some point they’ll plot to enter a bar trivia competition before being turned away at the door… because they’re twelve. Maria Carmen will also probably lead them on a crusade to free all the animals from their school’s science labs.
Last but not least, what’s something you’d like to tell your readers or something you’d like them to take away from the book?
After reading my book, I’d love for young readers to understand that it’s okay to be silly, to cry, and to lean on other people. I hope they know that they aren’t alone and that home can be whatever they make it. And I want to tell my readers to KEEP READING! There are so many incredible stories out there for you to enjoy and get lost in. Some middle grade books I’ve absolutely loved recently are Ana on the Edge by AJ Sass, Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron, and The Dream Weaver by Reina Luz Alegre.
About the author
Adrianna Cuevas is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. A former Spanish and ESOL teacher, Adrianna currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and son. When not working with TOEFL students, wrangling multiple pets including an axolotl, and practicing fencing with her son, she is writing her next middle grade novel.
She is represented by Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel of Full Circle Literary.
About the book
Publication date : July 21st, 2020
Publisher : Farrar Strauss & Giroux| Macmillan
Genre : Middle Grade | Fantasy
Page Count: 288
Synopsis : All Nestor Lopez wants is to live in one place for more than a few months and have dinner with his dad. But when you’re the son of an Army sergeant deployed in Afghanistan, you get used to never really having a home and moving so often, you’ve had ten first days in six years of school.
Nestor finally has a chance to live off-base when he and his mother move to New Haven, Texas to live with his grandmother. Nestor plans to lay low and bide his time until his mom announces the inevitable next move. He certainly has no intention of letting anyone find out his deepest secret- he can talk to animals.
But New Haven turns out to be much different than Nestor’s previous towns. Nestor’s long-held secret of being able to communicate with animals is put front and center when New Haven is threatened by a tule vieja, a witch that can morph into animals. As the town’s animals begin disappearing and his grandmother is accused, Nestor must chose between keeping his secret and defending his family and friends. With his father deployed thousands of miles away, Nestor relies on his own strengths, as well as those of his new friends, to save New Haven, a place he just might dare to call home.
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.