The Smile Shop

Satoshi Kitamura. Peachtree, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68263-255-0
Kitamura (Hat Tricks) captures the endless interest of a bustling environment as an East Asian child with a fistful of coins wanders alone through a city’s market and shops, planning “to buy myself something for the very first time.” An apple pie draws the child to a baker’s window; an appealing model ship (“Oh, what a beautiful little boat”) is too expensive; a black hat “suits me head to toe.” In a flash, though, a sidewalk mishap scatters the money, and the day’s plans fizzle—until an encounter with an older Black shopkeeper redeems things. Throughout this simple story, shoppers, schoolchildren, buskers, and street sellers of various ages, ethnicities, and religions jostle one another along streets and sidewalks, all rendered in intricate ink and wash scenes. There’s plenty to see in the shops, too: cakes and rolls, musical instruments, a wall of clocks (“I wonder which clock is telling the right time?”). Far from ruining the day, the loss allows the protagonist to change focus, from considering the city’s myriad offerings to encountering its denizens’ smiles alone—one precious thing, Kitamura hints, that doesn’t cost any money. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/10/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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