Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Lolo's Sari-sari Store by Sophia N. Lee

 It's time to celebrate another book birthday! The cover on today's read invites right in. Honestly, I'm not sure what it will be about...a store, a girl and selling? But we'll find out.

by Sophia N. Lee
Illustrated by Christine Almeda
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

A little girl holds lessons learned in her grandfather’s sari-sari store close while adjusting to a new home in this sweet picture book about the joy of community, connection, and Filipino culture.

For one girl, summers used to mean helping Lolo run his sari-sari store, which was always brimming with goods for the neighborhood: shampoo packets for Ate Jane, rice and eggs for Tonton, and a sympathetic ear for anyone who needed it. “Sari-sari means a good variety—just look around and you’ll see. What help can you give your community?” Lolo would say, as he filled his shelves with what people would need.

Now that she’s far from the Philippines, she misses Lolo and the friendly faces that surrounded his sari-sari store. But when she remembers her grandfather’s words, her heart keeps Lolo close, and she starts to see opportunities for connection and community in her new home.

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This read begins with a young girl and her memories of working with Lolo at his sari-sari store. Not only is the store a visual treat, but warmth and joy come across as she explains the various pepole, who would come by the shop. Lolo's heart of gold is inspiring and is sure to bring a smile to the face. These earlier scenes especially invite in and will have readers wishing they could join Lolo, too, since there's always someone with a smile or hello. 

Then, it switches to the little girl's new life in the US with her mother. Since the mother works, the girl feels alone and misses the neighborly life. Her sadness weighs down just enough to bring the emotions across without growing too heavy. It sets the atmosphere for hope and reaching out, which also forms the main message in these pages. The situations come across with familiarity and are very fitting to the age group.

A sense for community and helping others rings loud and clear as the reader accompanies the girl in finding new connections. Giving and recognizing others' needs also rounds off the message and leaves the reader with a sense of hope...and maybe, a few ideas of their own. It does open up the possibility to a discussion or even a project surrounding the community.

And here they are...

Sophia N. Lee grew up in the Philippines. She wanted to be many things growing up: doctor, teacher, ballerina, ninja, crime-fighting international spy, wizard, time traveler, journalist, and lawyer. She likes to think she can be all these things and more through writing. She is the author of Soaring SaturdaysWhat Things Mean, which won a Scholastic Asian Book Award’s grand prize; Holding On; and Lolo’s Sari-sari Store. Learn more about her at SophiaLeeWrites.com.

Christine Almeda is a Filipino American freelance illustrator and lover of sunshine from New Jersey. Lolo’s Sari-sari Store is her first picture book. Christine believes that, through the power of creativity and storytelling, art can make life more beautiful. Visit her at ChristineAlmeda.com or @EyChristine.

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