Over the Shop (Hardcover)
Winter 2020 Kids Indie Next List
“This beautiful picture book without words tells a story of welcoming and acceptance. I love that the absence of text allows the reader to make up any story or dialogue they want, and the pictures provide so much to talk about. It would be easy to become so absorbed in this book that the time just passes by.”
— Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
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.
About the Author
JonArno Lawson is an acclaimed Canadian poet and writer who has published several works of verse and books for children, including the award-winning Sidewalk Flowers, illustrated by Sydney Smith. JonArno Lawson lives in Toronto with his family.
Qin Leng is a designer and illustrator of children’s books. She has received many awards for her animated short films and her artwork. She lives in Toronto with her family.
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 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. . .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. . .This meticulously detailed tale spreads a heartwarming message of renewal, hope, friendship, and compassion.
—School Library Journal (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)
As in Sidewalk Flowers, author Lawson conceptualized the story for this wordless picture book. Here, words appear only as text within the illustrations (a sign displays the name of the titular shop as Lowell’s General Store; a card in the shop window reads “Apartment for Rent”). Leng’s watercolor and ink illustrations channel Quentin Blake and David Small in their loose lines and expressive characterization. . .Deft use of panels helps establish the sequence of event.
—The Horn Book