Oscar’s American Dream

Random/Schwartz & Wade. Oct. 2020. 36p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525707691.
Gr 1-4–The store at the corner of Front Street and 2nd Avenue takes center stage in a book that brings readers along through 100 years of history against the background of just one building. It all begins with Oskar, an Ellis Island immigrant, who opens a barber shop there. When Oscar, now sporting an Americanized spelling of his first name, moves on to pursue another path, the building’s use changes as well. Each passing chapter in American history is depicted through a change in the corner store’s owners and their unique American dreams. The illustrations, pen and pencil drawings (hand drawn and digitally rendered) in muted tones, add depth to the story with detailed imagery that breaths life into the ever-changing corner store. The story line is reflective of a mostly Eurocentric American experience; until Moises, who is Puerto Rican, appears later in the text, the shop owners are all white. Supporting illustrations depict a higher degree of diversity in the population.
VERDICT An interesting fictional lens through which to view history but an additional purchase for most school libraries.

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