Beautiful, honest, complex.

MY TWO BORDER TOWNS

A father and son run errands across the U.S.–Mexico border.

Early on Saturday, the boy (who's never named) prepares his “special bag” to bring to Mexico for his friends. Crossing from Texas to Tamaulipas, the duo drives across town and over the bridge into a twin town where Spanish is just as frequently heard, but English is spoken less. Before tackling their errands, father and son stop to fuel up with café de olla and chocolate caliente, respectively. They visit the jewelry shop, gather groceries and supplies at the abarrotes, play soccer with cousins, and pick up medicine at the pharmacy. On their way back home to the United States, the protagonist encounters his friends at the bridge: displaced people from the Caribbean and Central America living in limbo on the border between two towns and two countries. Taking advantage of the slow pace of the traffic on the bridge, the boy exits his father’s truck, bringing the gathered supplies and toys to those in wait. In what initially comes across as a story of a sweet visit to a Mexican town to run some errands, Bowles seamlessly weaves in some of the complexities of living on the border. He fearlessly introduces the complex issues surrounding the presence of refugees waiting to be admitted into the United States and candidly portrays the everyday lives of families who span the border, creating a unique cosmos in this space. Meza’s background illustrations around town imbue the pages with Mexico’s vibrance. Bowles translates his own text into Spanish in a simultaneously publishing edition. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Beautiful, honest, complex. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11104-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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WE ARE IN A BOOK!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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