Oscar’s American Dream might not become a classic, but Barry Wittenstein has created something that has all the pieces to become one. First, there are the great illustrations by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell. Second, there is a story that tells us the history from “the little guys” point of view. And finally, there are elements that the two create together to make something all ages can relate too and love.
The start of the book is a man named Oskar (who would change his name to Oscar) coming to America. He has a loan from his mother and a cardboard suitcase with all he owns. But with that, determination, and kindness, he creates a corner store for the neighborhood. Oscar might not have been a real person, but he represents the story of many who immigrated to this country. Also, it shows how a community grows and changes. But somethings stay the same: everyone who owns the shop has all the elements of Oscar. They might not have been immigrants (though one person several years later starts off just like Oscar) but they all have the determination and kindness and love for their neighborhood.
This book shows the country’s history in a unique way. The store in this story has been everything from a Barber Shop to a Candy Store, but one this is the same during all that change: change itself and the love that Corner Store gives to the community. This is a perfect book for an older classroom setting when teaching history. The history made in the book might not be Textbook Worthy, but it is the true history of this country in many ways.
With that said, it still might not be for everyone due to the lack of traditional action, but everyone can find something to enjoy (even if only watching the history of the styles of clothing, which I thought cool. I knew when the 1980s and 1990s hit. Dear Lord, we knew not what we were doing!!!)