While funny picture books are my jam, David Bowles and Erika Meza‘s buoyant MY TWO BORDER TOWNS might have been my favorite children’s book I read in the past year. I have a real soft spot for picture books that feature families, and this simple-on-the-surface story incorporates some big, big topics – but with such a deft touch. And Erika Meza’s art – wow. It is gorgeous. I wish I had a print of just about every spread in this book.

A boy and his father travel from the U.S. to visit relatives and run errands on the Mexican side of the border. Bowles captures the magic of a trip–lively streets, special treats, playing with cousins–and, soon, there’s just one more stop. On their way home, father and son bring medicine and small gifts to refugees who they have befriended and who are camped on the border between Mexico and the U.S.

Bowles gets at the sadness and unfairness of the situation of those seeking entry to either country, but also ends with optimism, when the boy

“imagine[s] a wonderful day, when all my friends from the Other Side can go back and forth between my two border towns, just like me.”

Ultimately, MY TWO BORDER TOWNS reflects the vibrancy of border-town family life, something I heard Bowles say was important for him with this book. The family abounds in riches. And it’s a gift to be able to address something like unjust, short-sighted refugee and immigration policies and still leave people wanting more. But we do. As the family knows, there’s room enough for all of us.

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