cover image Over the Shop

Over the Shop

JonArno Lawson, illus. by Qin Leng. Candlewick, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5362-01

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.)