Perfect Picture Book Friday – Oscar’s American Dream

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and in the wake of the recent election and Veteran’s Day, I have a wonderful book that celebrates the American Dream!

Title: Oscar’s American Dream

Written By: Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated By: Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell

Schwartz & Wade, October 2020, informational fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 4-8, School Library Journal says 6-10 – I think SLJ is more on target

Themes/Topics: American history, immigration, American Dream, change and opportunity

text copyright Barry Wittenstein 2020, illustration copyright Kristen&Kevin Howdeshell 2020 Schwartz & Wade

Opening: “Oskar Nowicki
arrived at Ellis Island
carrying his life in a cardboard suitcase
and a skinny roll of money in his coat pocket,
a loan from his mother in Poland
for a down payment on his dream.

Brief Synopsis: 20th century American history unfolds on a street corner in New York City as a little shop changes hands and dreams, from a barbershop in 1899 to luxury apartments in 1999.

Links To Resources: an author’s note at the back of the book expands on the history included in the story; trace the history of your home, or of a building in your neighborhood or town that you find interesting (a library, a town hall, a church, etc.): when was it built? who built it? what kind of history has it seen?; design, draw, and/or describe a shop/building that you would like to own that embodies your dream!

text copyright Barry Wittenstein 2020, illustration copyright Kristen&Kevin Howdeshell 2020 Schwartz & Wade

Why I Like This Book: I really enjoyed the idea of seeing history unfold on a street corner. What an interesting way of looking at the passage of time! A succession of people from different backgrounds with different dreams bought the little corner shop, and as a barbershop, a women’s clothing store, a soup kitchen, an army recruitment office, a bodega, and several other incarnations, the little shop saw the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, Civil Rights – all the history of the 20th century – and how the shop played a role in fulfilling the American Dreams of the various owners. The art is a beautiful complement to the text, filled with interesting details, and reflecting the mood of the times.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 😊

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 😊

13 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Oscar’s American Dream

  1. Maria Marshall (@MariaMarshall_) says:

    Wow, history truly does come to you from this corner shop. Susanna I love the clothing, colors, and passage of time in these spreads. It almost feesl like opening a time capsule. THank you for sharing this one. I’m looking forward to getting from my library.

  2. Patricia Tilton says:

    The little shop on the corner is like a wonderful character in this story, observing growth, changing owners and being a part of the history of the city. Love it! The illustrations give the shop and story a cozy feel, as it holds big dreams for its owners. Great choice right now.

  3. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Oooh, I just saw this book somewhere else, and it’s on my TBR list. I love Barry Wittenstein’s writing. And the 60s-70s era illustration with the flower power bell bottoms, facial hair, and track suit makes me smile.

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