Over the Shop

by Jonarno Lawson (Author) Qin Leng (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

In a beautifully detailed wordless picture book, a tumbledown building becomes home sweet home for a found family.

A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space--until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl's big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways. In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson's touching story and Qin Leng's gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building's transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A warm and subtly nuanced tale, Over the Shop throws open the doors to what it means to accept people for who they are and to fill your home with love and joy.


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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

A child helps create community in this wordless tale by Lawson (Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon). She lives with a grumpy, wild-haired grandparent, the proprietor of a run-down corner store with a dingy second-floor apartment that puts prospective renters off--ink and wash panels by Leng (When I Found Grandma) show grotty tiles, a cupboard door sitting askew, and a lone bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling. After a string of rejections, an interracial couple appears (Pride flags, included throughout, cue them as queer, and the book's dedication suggests trans representation). The grandparent balks, but the child, drawn to the duo, persuades the grandparent to let them the flat. The couple moves in, cleans and paints, plants window boxes, and, with the girl as coconspirator, draws the grandparent, a neighbor, and even a local cat into their lives with generous hospitality. With a sure line and growing touches of color and adornment as the couple brightens their space, Leng captures the snowball effect of the girl's and the couple's efforts. It's a story about warmth, hospitality, and the way human beings can learn to change at any age. Though it's resolved with compassion, the grandparent's initial reluctance may call for some context setting. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3-5--A dedication to trans activists and some characters who are nonbinary in dress and clothing make a simple message of love and acceptance resonate subtly. In this wordless book, there is comfort in familiarity, but sometimes a little change can shed new light on everything. A young girl and her grandparent live behind the family general store, where she helps the elder person with daily activities. Their contradictory personalities are depicted from the beginning; the grandparent turns away a hungry cat while, moments later, the girl brings it some food. A third of the way into the book, the grandparent puts an "apartment for rent" sign in the window. Prospective tenants tour the ramshackle apartment and are repelled by its state of disrepair. However, one special couple are willing to give the apartment--and the recalcitrant grandparent--a chance, improving more than the walls and pipes in the process. This wordless story manages to speak volumes. Detailed images fill each page, requiring careful study and observation to understand the entire story. Multiple frames appear on each page, creating a more robust narrative than is often found in picture books. The girl and her caretaker are light-skinned; the new renters are a Black person with flowing hair who wears skirts, and a lean, light-skinned person with black straight hair and wearing slacks. Readers quickly accept that they don't really know everyone's genders and that the story deliberately transcends such labels. Muted watercolor illustrations give way to more vibrant hues as the grandparent gets comfortable with the new residents. VERDICT This meticulously detailed tale spreads a heartwarming message of renewal, hope, friendship, and compassion.--Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver P.L.

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

In this wordless tale, a chosen family forms...A few carefully placed pride rainbows make queerness explicit: a barely noticeable rainbow belt; a rainbow hat, tiny in a distance shot; and, finally, an unmistakable (and unprecedented for this shop) rainbow flag hanging outside the business at the very end. Careful readers may deduce that the Asian tenant is a transgender man, signaled through an extremely subtle plot point. Poverty and the child's early loneliness are subtle too, but warmth never is. A wordless, singing infusion of love and energy into a home.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A child helps create community in this wordless tale by Lawson (Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon)...With a sure line and growing touches of color and adornment as the couple brightens their space, Leng captures the snowball effect of the girl's and the couple's efforts. It's a story about warmth, hospitality, and the way human beings can learn to change at any age. Though it's resolved with compassion, the grandparent's initial reluctance may call for some context setting.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Jonarno Lawson
JonArno Lawson is an award-winning poet and writer who is the author of many books for children and adults, including Over the Shop, illustrated by Qin Leng. He lives in Toronto with his family.

Qin Leng is a designer and illustrator of books for young people, including Over the Shop by JonArno Lawson. She has received numerous awards for her animated short films and artwork. Qin Leng lives in Toronto with her family.
Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9781536201475
Lexile Measure
N/A
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
January 20, 2021
Series
-
ALSC Notable Children's Book
Selection 2022

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