Newbery Honor book 'A Snake Falls to Earth' is infused with 'unwavering optimism'

When the Newbery Award winners were announced this week, Darcie Shultz was thrilled to see one of her recent favorites had made the honors list. Shultz owns Books and Burrow in Pittsburg, Kan., which highlights Indigenous authors and stories on its shelves.

"A Snake Falls to Earth" by Darcie Little Badger.
"A Snake Falls to Earth" by Darcie Little Badger.
Courtesy of publisher

The honored book is the latest YA offering from Darcie Little Badger, "A Snake Falls to Earth."

Little Badger is a Earth scientist and an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache tribe of Texas, and both of these attributes are infused within the novel.

There are two tethered worlds in the story: contemporary Earth, where we meet a teenaged Lipan girl named Nina; and the land of spirits and monsters, home to Oli, an animal person who is a cottonmouth snake. Their lives are parallel and separate until events related to climate change bring them together to try to save Oli's dear friend.

It's a story about friendship and found families, and Shultz found herself energized by the characters' "unwavering optimism."

 "I just I found myself smiling a lot and, and kind of feeling like I was in this daydream or, like all of a sudden my imagination was sparked to life," says Shultz, who also highly recommends Little Badger's first book, "Elatsoe."

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