To view the Spring 2020 Windows & Mirrors Edelweiss collection, click here.
We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom; Michaela Goade
“Water is the first medicine”. The first line of this powerful call to action underscores our deep connection to water and how vital the need to defend it. Messages of protection and connection flow across the pages, as the Seven Fires Prophecy is told. This tells of a black snake that will come to threaten the land, water, and animals if humans neglect to treat the earth with kindness and care. Connecting to present-day oil pipelines being dragged through Indigenous lands, and the protests against them, the reader is encouraged and empowered to stand up in defense of those who cannot. This magnificent work by Indigenous creators is a lyrical and visually stunning call to stand up.
— Lauren, Wellesley Books (Wellesley, MA)
The Oldest Student by Lorraine Hubbard; Illustrated by Oge Mora
Reading is a liberatory act. Reading imparts knowledge of who we are, what the world is, and what rights we have as human beings. To be robbed of the opportunity to read and learn is an act of oppression. An oppression faced by countless enslaved Black Americans for centuries. Mary Walker was freed from slavery at age 15, but even then there were numerous obstacles that prevented her from learning to read. It was at the age of 116—nearly a century after being freed from slavery—that Mary Walker became America’s oldest student, and learned to read. Lorraine Hubbard’s recounting of her story is resonant and affecting, and Oge Mora’s illustrations highlight the vibrancy that stories, language, and the written word bring to our lives.
— Read D., Harvard Book Store (Cambridge, MA)
Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan
Like the Moon Loves the Sky is a beautiful new child book in which a loved one expresses their hopes and aspirations for their child. An author’s note at the front of the book gives context for the language used, as each line starts with Inshallah, Arabic for “if God wills it” and each wish takes inspiration from the Quran. With bright, warm, bold illustrations this picture book shows children the ways in which they can live a thoughtful and grounded life, as well as showing the story of a family’s love as a child grows. A beautiful book for a family of any or no faith, as parents can relate to the dreams they share for their children, and children will feel their family’s love emanate from every wish.
— Tildy, Belmont Books (Belmont, MA)
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, A Wish in the Dark follows Pong, a young boy born in Namwon prison, who dreams of freedom. Escaping before his 13th birthday, he is left with the brand of a prisoner and finds that life outside the walls is far from just. Fire is outlawed and the Governor creates and commodifies all light in Chattana, channeling his magic into orbs which only the wealthy can afford. Nok, the prison warden’s daughter, is intent on capturing Pong in order to restore her family’s honor, but soon she is also questioning the system her family has helped uphold. Christina Soontornvat brilliantly shines a light on many timely issues: wealth inequality, prisons and policing, and, most importantly, the power of the people. A twist on Les Misérables, this book is both a fabulous fantasy and an accessible entry point for thinking about big issues.
— Kinsey, Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley, MA)
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
Snapdragon is pretty much everything you want in a graphic novel. A middle school Black girl is out looking for her missing dog when she discovers he’s been kidnapped by the town witch! Or has he? With echoes of Baba Yaga, Snapdragon includes friendship, magic, and just enough of a creep factor to keep kids on the edge of their seats without keeping them up at night. It doesn’t shy away from matters of race and class, as well as gender identity and orientation, but it never loses the fun and intrigue of the story. Kat Leyh’s style is action-packed but with tons of cool details, and any kid who’s both struggled with and embraced their oddities will relate to Snap and her friends.
— Tildy, Belmont Books (Belmont, MA)
This is My Brain In Love by I.W. Gregorio
I’ve never read a book like this before, one that talks about mental health in such an honest way. It’s more than a YA rom-com, more than a fun summer break book, This Is My Brain In Love holds a real, level conversation about depression and anxiety. Gregorio’s able to really get into the brain of someone with depression who doesn’t realize it, what it’s like to watch someone you care about go through it, and what an inner monologue sounds like for someone with anxiety. Adding in facets of being in an interracial relationship, class, and immigrant parents, it’s ambitious but Gregorio pulls it off. It’s not all sad, of course: there’s love and joy and a happy ending.
— Lily R., Harvard Book Store (Cambridge, MA)
Parachutes by Kelly Yang
Dani and Claire: Two girls who are polar opposites yet have so many similarities, albeit unbeknownst to each other. Opposites in status, wealth, parental love and approval yet both yearning for the greener grass. The parachute kids seem to be wrapped in so much privilege yet share commonality with the Asian Americans that are not acknowledged, including being constantly “othered”. But, mostly, this is about immigration and #metoo that is told in an effortless way through both Dani’s and Claire’s lens. This will be as big of a hit with readers as Front Desk is and showcases Kelly Yang’s writing as one to watch.
— Audrey H., Belmont Books (Belmont, MA)
We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Forced to flee from a home they both love and fear, three teens take on the harrowing and life-threatening journey from Guatemala to the United States. While a reader will walk in these shoes for a few hours, this novel faces the day to day reality of countless people who suffer due to the circumstances they are born into and the history of oppression their community has faced. The trauma these characters experience is tenderly handled by the author while never compromising on the truth–Pequeña, Pulga, and Chico have no interest in your pity. I hope this book becomes a jumping off point for many readers to learn more about the refugee crisis and what they can do to change the current system that works against those it is supposedly there to help.
— Steph H., Print: A Bookstore (Portland, ME)
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
When someone posts private pictures of him pre-transition in the lobby at school, Felix Love dives head first into a revenge plot for the ages. Meanwhile, he also faces typical high school drama, ongoing questions about gender and identity, and the stress of college applications. Kacen Callender brilliantly layers together the complexities of managing multiple marginalizations—including being a black, bisexual, nonbinary and lower income student at a private high school—while also dealing with the every day struggles of being a high school senior. Though there is trauma and heartache to Felix’s story, it bursts with love, joy, and pride. This book is perfect for nonbinary teens of color looking to see themselves reflected on the page. Felix Love means the world to me—and I know he will to countless other black trans and nonbinary folk too.
— Read D., Harvard Book Store (Cambridge, MA)
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz Lighty already sticks out more than she’d like as a black, poor, queer-but-not-entirely-out band geek, surrounded by wealthy white peers in her small Indiana town. She can’t wait to leave for college to study to be a doctor, inspired by her mother’s death from and brother’s ongoing struggle with sickle cell anemia. But when Liz doesn’t get the scholarship she counted on, she reluctantly turns to drastic measures: running for prom queen, which comes with plenty of onerous obligations and expectations but also a much-needed scholarship. Liz never dreamed that doing so could revolutionize her school’s narrow-minded prom culture, or that she might fall in love with another prom queen contender. Johnson’s debut is in turns funny, sweet, sad, and romantic, and Liz’s journey of self-discovery as she stands up for herself and what she deserves (supportive friendships, joy, and a cute, smart girl who adores her) is irresistible.
— Amy A., The Children’s Book Shop (Brookline, MA)