My Two Border Towns by David Bowles, illustrated by Erika Meza. Kokila/Penguin Random House, 2021. 9780593111048
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? My Two Border Towns gently and honestly shows the difference in privilege between the half of the town that is part of the United States and the half of the town that is in Mexico. A small boy is excited to spend a Saturday with his father as he crosses the border from the United States into Mexico. They visit friends and relatives indulging in some of their favorite foods, playing with cousins as well as taking advantage of a less expensive economy to get jewelry repaired and to pick up medical prescriptions. Last but not least (“The most important visit, Dad says”) is a visit to a family waiting in a detention center at the border. The boy and his father bring food, toys and a bit of cheer to a mother and her children who are camped out waiting their turn to be interviewed by U.S. border officials. Erika Meza’s gouache, watercolor and pencil illustrations are bright, colorful, cheerful and busy as she shows both sides of the border town as vibrant communities. Make no mistake though, there is an undercurrent here; one that shows the different sides of a town divided.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No. This is a must read
To whom would you recommend this book? This is a great story in and of itself and so should be read for that reason alone. However, it gives a true insight into a world outside the United States that all kids might not have access to. It is honest but not too weighty and its message is subtle but important.
Who should buy this book? It’s great for all age groups. The younger set will love the story and illustrations but it could and should be used with much older kids to look at economic and lifestyle differences in such close proximity in border towns.
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Pam WattsFlavin, Head of Children’s Services, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA.
Date of review: October 1, 2021