I am so THRILLED to introduce you to Adrianna Cuevas, and reveal the cover for her debut middle grade book, THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ. This is one of my most anticipated debut reads of 2020. Adrianna, please introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about yourself.
Hola, readers! I’m so excited to introduce my book to you. I’m a first generation Cuban-American who grew up in Miami, Florida. I now live outside of Austin, Texas with my husband and son. I taught English for Speakers of Other Languages and Spanish for 16 years. I’m completely obsessed with books and stories and could talk about them all day. But when I’m not doing that, I love watching silly YouTube videos with my son and attempting new baking recipes to varying success.
Can you give us a brief synopsis of your book?
It’s about Nestor Lopez, who wants nothing more than to live in one place for more than a few months and have dinner with his dad, an Army sergeant deployed in Afghanistan. When he and his mother move to a new town to live with his grandmother, Nestor plans to lie low, and he definitely doesn’t want anyone to find out his deepest secret: that he can talk to animals.
But when animals in his new town start disappearing, Nestor’s grandmother becomes the prime suspect after she’s spotted in the woods where they were last seen. As Nestor investigates the source of the disappearances, he learns that they are being seized by a tule vieja- a witch who can absorb an animal’s powers if she bites it during a solar eclipse. And the next eclipse is just around the corner…
It’s up to Nestor and his extraordinary ability, along with his new friends, to catch the tule vieja- and save a place he just might call home.
What inspired you to write this story?
This book is truly a family story. Nestor’s interactions with his father are based on my experiences when my husband was deployed in Iraq as a military policeman. Nestor’s obsession with animal trivia comes from my son, who used to sit on my bed with a huge animal encyclopedia and regale me with random facts. Finally, Nestor’s grandmother and his Cuban-American heritage come from my own background. It was important to me that my son see himself as the hero of the story and for all readers to see that children from diverse backgrounds can save the day.
Did you have any say in cover or its design, and please tell us who illustrated it?
My cover is illustrated by the amazing Andrea Galecio. She also illustrated the cover of Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, one of my favorite books, so I was excited when she signed on to illustrate NESTOR. I actually had more say in the cover design than I thought I would. I was able to send my editor pictures of prickly pear cactus, live oak trees, and mesquite bushes, as well as photos of the Texas hill country landscape. Andrea’s final design definitely captured the Texas setting of the book as well as the energy of the story.
OK, let’s show everyone what it looks like!
This is SO cool! I love the way the cover looks like it’s illuminated by the flashlight beam!
One of my favorite parts is that the ‘O’ in Nestor is an eclipse! I love that Nestor is wearing his father’s dog tags and I’m glad my favorite character, Cuervito the snarky raven, got his proper recognition on the cover. And if you look closely, you’ll see some clues about the tule vieja…
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about your book?
Among all the talking animals and witches, The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez is about finding a home. It’s my hope that readers find a home in my story, even just for a little while. Whether they’re graphic novels, poetry, comics, or prose, books are always there to welcome us and give us a means of escape and a way to see ourselves. I hope my story does just that.
What is the release date for THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF NESTOR LOPEZ, and where can our readers go to find out more information about it, and you?
Adrianna: The release date is May 12, 2020. Readers can find out more about me, my book, and school visits at my website adriannacuevas.com.
Adrianna Cuevas is a first-generation Cuban-American originally from Miami, Florida. After teaching Spanish and ESOL for sixteen years, she decided to pursue her passion for storytelling. Adrianna currently resides outside of Austin, Texas, with her husband and son, where they enjoy hiking, traveling, and cooking lots of Cuban food.