Our Corner Store

Groundwood. Apr. 2020. 64p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781773062167.
Gr 3-6–This illustrated poetry book features a boy in an urban setting recalling fond memories of visiting a corner store with his sister. They shop for their parents, play with the store’s cat, play tricks on the clerk, and help to close up shop on Saturdays. Their longing for the store’s expensive treats is palpable and endearing as their parents have money only for the essentials. Their pranks are sometimes fun and sometimes mean but dealt with judiciously by their parents. Each chapter is a one- to two-page poem. The innocence of the siblings is conveyed through the poems and through the soft, almost childlike style of O’Byrne’s illustrations. When a supermarket opens in the neighborhood, the corner store loses its footing and has to close. The illustration of the big city crowding out the corner store is reminiscent of Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. Similar to Burton’s story, this is a narrative of population and industry increase over time and how such changes impact the local small businesses and families. In the note at the end of the story, the narrator remembers exploring the neighborhood with his sister as a child and contemplates the idea of “it takes a village.” The collected work is loosely based on Heidbreder’s life and is a follow-up to Rooster Summer but definitely can be read on its own.
VERDICT A whimsical novel in verse for older elementary and younger middle school collections.

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