Over the Shop

Over the Shop
JonArno Lawson and Qin Leng
Walker Books

This is a wordless picture book that tells an uplifting tale of acceptance, trust and transformation.

As the story starts we see a child and her grandmother who is evidently the proprietor of the corner general store, at the back of which are their living quarters. It’s a run down place and upstairs is an empty flat. It’s not an inviting prospect for renters as is evident from the number of people who turn their backs on the place having viewed it.

Then, along come a couple of young people and it’s clear from the grandmother’s expressions that she has her doubts about them as tenants. They however are able to see past the run-down state of what’s on offer, and the child appears to be drawn to them and so begins project metamorphosis.

Not only do they, aided and abetted by the girl and the occasional neighbour, enthusiastically transform the apartment,

they also give the shop’s exterior a fresh coat of paint and help with the day-to-day running of the enterprise.
Meanwhile the girl has also enticed inside the cat her grandmother shooed away early on in the story, and that too now has a home. Thus from unpromising beginnings, a wonderful new family is formed.

Full of vitality, Qin Leng’s intricately detailed storytelling pictures rendered in ink and watercolour, are somewhat reminiscent of Sarah Garland. The presence of a rainbow flag in the final couple of spreads confirm what readers attentive to the fine detail might already have suspected.

This is one of those books where the more you look, the more you discover and the more stories emerge.

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