NECBA Windows & Mirrors 2023 Short List

 

Since 2015, a committee of New England Children's Bookseller Association (NECBA) community members has curated an annual list of diverse and inclusive titles that they feel best represent the concept of Windows & Mirrors (best articulated by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop). After selecting titles submitted by publishers and booksellers, NECBA presents the final Windows & Mirrors list at the annual NEIBA Fall Conference, as well as at various ABA, NEIBA, and NECBA events. Committee members write short blurbs for each title, which are included below.

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A Day With No Words By Tiffany Hammond, Kate Cosgrove (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Tiffany Hammond, Kate Cosgrove (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781736949795
Availability: Backordered and/or In Reprint - May Not Be Available for Some Time
Published: Wheat Penny Press - May 9th, 2023

Beautifully written and illustrated, this story is about Aiden, a nonverbal autistic child, who communicates in several different ways, including using a tablet. One day he and his mother go to the park and are confronted by the ignorance of other families who misconstrue and judge Aiden's behavior. Angered by their contempt, Aiden's mother is forced to stand up not only for her son, but also for other families like hers. This book is a powerful affirmation about the importance of having compassion and understanding, and reminds us that words have meaning no matter how they are communicated.

- Laure Colodner, Odyssey Books (South Hadley, MA)


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The Truth About Dragons: (Caldecott Honor Book) By Julie Leung, Hanna Cha (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Julie Leung, Hanna Cha (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250820587
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - August 15th, 2023

The wonderful children’s book invites you on an epic quest where bold, beautiful illustrations guide the main character to learn about dragons. First he walks through oak forests and avoids the likes of hobgoblins and will-o’-the-wisps of Western lore to learn about the fire breathing dragons that protect piles of treasure. Next he navigates great bamboo stalks and encounters nine-tailed foxes and the moon goddess of Eastern lore to learn about the serpent-like dragons with pearls in their chins that rule the skies and rivers. Both dragons are equally important and equally enchanting and our young traveler learns that his dual ancestry means he comes from both worlds. A gorgeous tale about the beauty of being biracial with more than one culture to call your own, The Truth About Dragons will have you breathless and eagerly exploring every nook and cranny of the illustrations while simultaneously holding your hand to your heart in pure joy at the end, tears in your eyes as our young protagonist is put to sleep with his two grandmothers looking over him.

- Kimi Loughlin, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore (Acton, MA)


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Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine By Hannah Moushabeck, Reem Madooh (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Hannah Moushabeck, Reem Madooh (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781797202051
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Chronicle Books - March 28th, 2023

Three little girls wait for their father to come home and put them to bed, eagerly anticipating the tales he will share, in this gorgeous story of family and place, told through memories and storytelling. Based on Moushabeck's own stories of her father and his life in Palestine, Homeland is vividly told through her soft prose, and Madooh's charming, full illustrations. This book is full of love and the hope of a people displaced across the globe, some of whom yearn for a place they’ve never been. While Homeland introduces the diaspora of the Palestinian people and the ongoing longing for home, the laughter and joy of Moushabeck’s family will resonate with young readers, whether or not they share an immigrant experience. I loved the backmatter with its delightfully extensive glossary and a moving author's note. Not to be missed either are the endpapers, with illustrations of black and white photographs from Moushabeck’s family in West Jerusalem before May 1948 at the front, and color pictures from the modern day illustrated at the back; emblematic of both of the careful details and powerful emotions embedded throughout this compelling picture book.

- Tildy Lutts, Belmont Books (Belmont, MA)


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Salat in Secret By Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Hatem Aly (Illustrator) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781984848093
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Random House Studio - June 6th, 2023

 “Daddy’s joy is bigger than him. It’s a wide, gap-toothed smile and a deep rumbling laugh that shakes the dinner table kind of joy.” When a book begins this way, you know that the story is going to be full of love and joy. It is Muhammad’s seventh birthday and he is finally old enough to pray five times a day. Having a place to pray at home is no problem, but what about at school? Muhammad has many worries-how to tell his teacher, what will his classmates say, where can he hide away to pray? After spending time with Dad, and seeing him pray out in the open, Muhammad comes to understand that prayer is not something to be hidden away. With that newfound confidence, Muhammad tells his teacher about his need for a place to pray, and even though he’s nervous about it, he also knows that “bravery sometimes comes with shaking”. The tension between fear and courage, and the empowering focus on empathy, self-confidence, and community building speaks to all children. As always, Hatem Aly’s illustrations are colorful and joyful, marrying perfectly with the text to create an absolute gem

- Lauren D’Alessio, Wellesley Books (Wellesley, MA)


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Henry, Like Always: Book 1 By Jenn Bailey, Mika Song (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Jenn Bailey, Mika Song (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781797213897
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Chronicle Books - March 21st, 2023

This lovely book's simple, often funny prose and moody, single-color illustrations immerse you in Henry's point of view. Though the text never explicitly states that he is on the autism spectrum, Henry's responses to things like loud noises and changes in routine are recognizably autistic, as is his straightforward manner. When a class parade disrupts the week's schedule, Henry is the only kid who isn't thrilled. The anticipation and other changes to routine throughout the week just make him more stressed out. But right before the parade, Henry's able to find a space in it that feels right for him, and help a classmate do the same. I loved the way this book portrays the universal experiences of feeling left out, overwhelmed, and frustrated in ways that are specific to being on the spectrum. It's the small moments—like when Henry hands his teacher a Quiet Card to let her know that he needs some quiet time alone and Henry's grumpy facial expression when the class is making posters for the parade—that make this book exceptional.

- Sara Waltuck, Brookline Booksmith (Brookline, MA)


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Rica Baptista: Llamas, Iguanas, and My Very Best Friend By Janet Costa Bates, Gladys Jose (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Janet Costa Bates, Gladys Jose (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781536216301
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Candlewick - October 25th, 2022

Rica Baptista's very best friend is moving away! The obvious solution: Rica needs to prove to her parents that she's responsible enough to get a pet so she won't be lonely. Babysitting chaos, a yard sale extravaganza, and a poetry contest - Rica is about to try it all! This is a short and engaging chapter book for fans of Ivy & Bean that's all about friendship, exotic animals that may or may not make good pets, and trying even when you're nervous or afraid! (Fun fact: Rica is named after her great-great-grandfather Frederico who left Cape Verde because of the drought but collected food and clothing to send back to the island.)

- Kinsey Foreman, High Five Books (Florence, MA)


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Sejal Sinha Battles Superstorms By Maya Prasad, Abira Das (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Maya Prasad, Abira Das (Illustrator)
$6.99
ISBN: 9781665911771
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Aladdin - May 2nd, 2023

Sejal Sinha is so excited to be celebrating Diwali with her family, but when a hurricane threatens to cancel the festivities, Sejal, her cousin Mira, her little brother Ravi, and her sidekick Professor Cheetah embark on an adventure that will teach them about the science behind superstorms, the history of how scientists have tried to stop them, and the power of imagination. With a mix of science, history, culture, and a whole lot of magic, Sejal Sinha Battles Superstorms has a little bit for everyone. Most importantly, however, it shows that imagination makes anything possible, and that we are never too old to believe in magic.

- Laure Colodner, Odyssey Books (South Hadley, MA)


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Salma Makes a Home By Danny Ramadan, Anna Bron (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Danny Ramadan, Anna Bron (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781773217628
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Annick Press - May 9th, 2023

After nearly two years apart, Salma is thrilled when her father can finally leave Syria to be with Salma and her mother in Canada; but she's also apprehensive. What if her baba doesn't love Vancouver as much as she does and wants to go back to Damascus — a place Salma struggles to remember? A relatable and profound exploration of the complex emotions immigrants often experience, Salma Makes a Home shows that it's possible to have two homes: "one that you live in, and one that lives within you."

- Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books (Beverly, MA)


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The Mystery of the Painted Fan By Linda Trinh, Clayton Nguyen (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Linda Trinh, Clayton Nguyen (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781773217727
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Annick Press - April 25th, 2023

Jacob Nguyen is pretty used to getting his way, so when his parents won't let him get a pink helmet for hockey, he's pretty confused. It turns out, people have a lot of weird rules and expectations they expect boys to follow, and Jacob doesn't understand any of them! As friends and family alike discourage Jacob from expressing himself in the ways that feel comfortable to him, Jacob finds solace in the painted fan willed to him by his late grandmother. The animals on the fan start leaping off the fan as apparition, to offer him the courage and strength to accept himself for who he is. This book is a beautiful exploration of gender identity, and the limiting constraints placed on boys' self-expression—especially boys of color—from a young age. Perfect for readers questioning their own gender, or boys with stereotypically "feminine" interests who feel out of place.

- Read Davidson, Harvard Book Store, (Cambridge, MA)


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Two Tribes By Emily Bowen Cohen, Emily Bowen Cohen (Illustrator) Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062983589
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Heartdrum - August 15th, 2023

Mia, who lives with her mom and step-dad in LA, struggles to fit in at home and at her Jewish day school. She feels torn between two cultures and longs to reconnect with her Muscogee father, who's with his new family in Oklahoma. Based on Emily Bowen Cohen's own experiences growing up Jewish Muscogee, Two Tribes is an empowering graphic novel about self-discovery, mixed heritage, acceptance, and belonging.

- Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books (Beverly, MA)


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Aniana del Mar Jumps In By Jasminne Mendez Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780593531815
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Dial Books - March 14th, 2023

Aniana (Ani) loves to swim. She feels alive and most herself in the ocean or while competing on the swim team, all of which must be kept secret from her mother. When Ani’s joints swell to the point of making her sick and keeping her in bed, her family searches for answers. The diagnosis of juvenile arthritis completely upends Ani’s life. Who is she without the ocean, without her swim medals? Who is she if her mother never lets her swim again. Aniana del Mar Jumps In is an insightful exploration of chronic illness. Both Ani and her parents must grow in different ways to accept this sickness they cannot see or cure. This is a beautifully written novel-in-verse. The poems not only capture the ebbs and flows (and storms) of Ani’s emotions, but the feeling of being buoyed by the water or dragged down by a wave. If you are an audiobook listener, the author narrates her book and does an incredible job.

- Kaitee Tredway, River Bend Bookshop (Glastonbury, CT)


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Seen and Unseen: What Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams's Photographs Reveal About the Japanese American Incarceration By Lauren Tamaki (Illustrator), Elizabeth Partridge Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9781452165103
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - October 25th, 2022

In 1942 in the United States, more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent were forced to leave their lives behind and live in prison camps during World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Three photographers: Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams used their cameras to preserve images of these prison camps and their occupants. All three photographers had different backgrounds, perspectives, and motivations for taking and sharing these photographs. Author Elizabeth Partridge and illustrator Lauren Tamaki use a combination of clear compelling prose, historical photography, and poignant original illustrations to report the history of the forced removal and its consequences then and today. Together they explore the role photography- often seen as an objective medium- played in creating, perpetuating, and challenging the narratives and justifications of the U.S. government who create the prison camps. Centering the Japanese American experience, this stunning and mesmerizing book is vital for kids and adults.

- Koki M., High Five Books (Florence, MA)


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Barely Floating By Lilliam Rivera Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780593323120
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Kokila - August 29th, 2023

Natalia de la Cruz Rivera y Santiago (aka “Nat”) is used to being underestimated by the kids at the local pool who never think she can out-swim them just because she’s fat. And she’s only too happy to take their money after she proves them wrong! But Nat never underestimates herself which is why she knows she’d excel in The L.A. Mermaids, a Black-owned synchronized swim team. And the best part? Matching sequin swimsuits! One minor hiccup: her activist mom and professor dad forbid her to join a sport that - in their opinion - focuses too much on appearance. Not one to give up, Nat joins the team without their knowledge but soon starts sneaking around, neglecting her friendships, and forcing her cousin to lie for her… until everything spirals out of control. Nat’s self-determination and big heart make her an easy character to root for and Lilliam Rivera navigates nuances of feminism with ease. Secondary characters dealing with their own hurdles like helping family members with the bills and being outed give the novel even more dimension. Barely Floating - just like Nat - does it all!

- Kinsey Foreman, High Five Books (Florence, MA)


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Buzzing (A Graphic Novel) By Samuel Sattin, Rye Hickman Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780316628419
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Little, Brown Ink - July 18th, 2023

Recently diagnosed with OCD, Isaac has a lot going on. His intrusive thoughts, cleverly depicted as a swarm of buzzing bees, are only calmed when he is drawing. An avid gaming and fantasy fan, Isaac is drawing a dragon and that catches the eye of his classmate, Micah, who invites him to join their RPG. This new group of friends is welcoming and supportive, reminding Isaac that “if you really think about it, weird is actually normal”. When Isaac nearly fails a test, his mother, who was wary about gaming the first place, bans Isaac from the game and his friends. Knowing this is an important outlet for him, Isaac’s sister helps get him to another local RPG. This is a place to find new friends, and once his two groups of friends merge (and Mom wants to learn to play!), color and joy spread across the pages. Rye Hickman’s illustrations are brilliant. The depiction of the bees, with the swarm getting bigger as his thoughts spiral, is so clever. As is the use of color; when Isaac is at home or school, the colors are drab and muted, and the only bright color comes from the bees. When he is with friends, however, the scenes are bright and full of color. Balancing nuanced relationships, mental health, and identity, this book is an absolute treasure.

- Lauren D’Alessio, Wellesley Books (Wellesley, MA)


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As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow By Zoulfa Katouh Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316351379
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 13th, 2022

A gorgeously written book about a teenage girl who is living through the Syrian Revolution. A young medical student, Salama quickly becomes an essential part of the hospital team in Homs after losing so many to bombings, gunfire, and emigration. She is torn between fleeing herself, especially before her sister-in-law Layla gives birth, and standing her ground to help her colleagues and countrymates survive. Her fear and anxiety takes a physical form in the shape of a man who haunts every corner attempting to keep her safe and convince her to leave. On top of this gripping tale of survival and strength, we also have an adorable romance that blooms between Salama and another teen who’s fates are intertwined. Inspiring, gripping, and unputdownable, As Long as the Lemon Tree Grows is an amazing tale of survival, fortitude, and mental health.

- Kimi Loughlin, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore (Acton, MA)


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When the Angels Left the Old Country By Sacha Lamb Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781646141760
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Levine Querido - October 18th, 2022

I've been trying to write a review of this book for weeks and each time I think about it I end up rereading parts of the book. An angel and a demon study Talmud together, and then immigrate to New York on a rescue mission. It reads like a folk tale. It reads like a patter song. It's so inherently queer or Jewish that I was shocked when the next book I read wasn't those things. This book is incredible. It's absorbing and timeless and richly imagined. As soon as you finish you'll want to start again.

- Katherine Nazzaro, Porter Square Books: Boston Edition (Boston, MA)


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Man Made Monsters By Andrea Rogers, Jeff Edwards (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Andrea Rogers, Jeff Edwards (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781646141791
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Levine Querido - October 4th, 2022

A journey through two centuries as we follow one Cherokee family and the monsters they meet --or face or befriend or become. Each story feels like the perfect glimpse into the life of equally unique and complex characters. This book emphasizes both how intertwined the generations of this family are, as well as how different each individual can be despite their shared roots. In turns haunting, heartfelt, and hopeful, this book is ideal for teen and adult readers alike.

- Katherine Nazzaro, Porter Square Books: Boston Edition (Boston, MA)


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Ander & Santi Were Here: A Novel By Jonny Garza Villa Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250843999
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Wednesday Books - May 2nd, 2023

Ander is a nonbinary artist taking a gap year between high school and art school to paint murals around their hometown of San Antonio through a fellowship at a non-profit. When their parents “fire” them from the family's taqueria so they can focus on their art, Ander ends up falling for their replacement, Santi. What Ander doesn't know at first is that Santi's undocumented, and the world seems hell-bent on keeping them apart. Despite the ever-present worry of ICE discovery, Ander and Santi’s relationship flourishes, their love loudly queer and loudly joyful. Ander's voice is strong and smart, flowing easily between descriptions of their work and process, being a teenager in love in the summer, grappling with a loveable but pushy family, and processing the horrors of the immigration-deportation cycle so close to home. Every page is filled with pain, love, and joy depicted exquisitely, represented externally by a stunning cover, a depiction of one of Ander's murals. Ander & Santi Were Here is an absolutely gorgeous, heart-wrenching, and warmly funny book.

- Tildy Lutts, Belmont Books (Belmont, MA)


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Stars in Their Eyes: A Graphic Novel By Jessica Walton (Created by), Aska (Created by) Cover Image
By Jessica Walton (Created by), Aska (Created by)
$15.99
ISBN: 9781338818796
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Graphix - August 1st, 2023

This sweet graphic novel romance was an absolute joy to read. Maisie is attending her first fan convention and can't wait to meet her favorite actor, who uses a prosthetic limb just like hers. She makes an instant connection with Ollie, a very cute nonbinary con volunteer. What follows is a whirlwind romance, where the two young teens bond about everything from fanfiction to annoying parents. I loved the way the book touches on everything from representation and accessibility to microaggressions and financial limitations to first love! The art is soft and saturated, perfectly capturing the vividness of the con experience and of being 14.

- Sara Waltuck, Brookline Booksmith (Brookline, MA)


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Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything By Justine Pucella Winans Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780358721642
Availability: At Our Partner Warehouse - Usually Arrives in 2 to 5 Days
Published: Clarion Books - April 11th, 2023

This is not your average anxiety representation. Bianca Torre prefers birds to people. On their running list, FEAR #6 is initiating conversion and #32 is not being liked. Birds are easier. Their birdwatching habit has morphed into peeking into the apartments across the alley, Rear Window style, and watching people like “Mr. Conspiracy.” Then Bianca witnesses his murder from behind their telescope. When the police dismiss the case, Biana and their best friend Anderson begin their own investigation. As they start to unwind a deep-seated conspiracy, they become targets themselves. Which isn’t even the worst of it. Bianca’s also trying to ask out the cute girl in the birdwatching club but FEAR #13: beautiful people and #13.5: Assuming it’s a date when it isn’t. Amidst the murder and death threats, Bianca not only confronts their very real anxieties, but discovers a new gender identity and the challenges around coming out both as nonbinary and what they’ve known for a very long time: they are a raging lesbian. Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything is a darkly funny and anxiety-ridden good time, full of cringes and laughs and hope for those with their own running lists of fears.

- Kaitee Tredway, River Bend Bookshop (Glastonbury, CT)