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Children's Fiction Multigenerational

Our Corner Grocery Store

by (author) Joanne Schwartz

illustrated by Laura Beingessner

Initial publish date
Apr 2009
Multigenerational, General, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2009
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2


A picture book that celebrates local shops and building communities.

Anna Maria takes great pleasure and pride in her grandparents’ corner grocery store. Every Saturday she spends the day helping to arrange fruits and vegetables, greet the customers, and keep things neat and tidy. Through her day we meet the neighbors and learn what an important part the corner grocery store plays in the community.

Nonno Domenico, Nonna Rosa, and Anna Maria supply more than goods as the steady stream of customers arrives. Lunches are made, news is shared, bargains are purchased, recipes are traded, and cheerful ciaos are called. By the end of a long day, Anna Maria has a true sense of just how wonderful the sights and smells within the store are and how much they mean to everyone.

Charmingly illustrated in great detail, Our Corner Grocery Store pays tribute to the small independent grocers who supply color and atmosphere to city streets. Young readers will particularly enjoy finding and naming the wide array of produce, breads, candies, and dry goods that abound in this friendly establishment.

About the authors

Joanne Schwartz was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Her first picture book, Our Corner Grocery Store, illustrated by Laura Beingessner, was nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. Her other books include City Alphabet and City Numbers, with photos by Matt Beam, and two Inuit folktales with Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak — The Legend of the Fog, illustrated by Danny Christopher, and Grandmother Ptarmigan, illustrated by Qin Leng. Joanne has been a children’s librarian for more than twenty-five years. She lives in Toronto.

Joanne Schwartz's profile page

Laura Beingessner has illustrated five books for children. School Library Journal has called her artwork "luminous" while Kirkus Reviews has praised it as "enticing." She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Laura Beingessner's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Our Corner Grocery Store

Saturday is Anna Maria’s favourite day of the week, for this is the day she helps her Italian grandparents, Nonno Domenico and Nonna Rosa, at their corner grocery store. She greets customers, arranges fruit and vegetables into neat rows, sorts out the bread delivery, assists with cooking dinner and keeps the store tidy. Through Anna Maria’s first-person account, readers are introduced to the ebb and flow of the day as deliveries arrive and customers of all ages enter the store to do their business. A warm and familiar sense of community pervades as purchases are made, lunches are ordered, recipes are exchanged and news is shared. Here, everybody is a somebody!

Joanne Schwartz celebrates the small independent grocery stores which still dot our communities but are rapidly becoming an endangered species. She writes simply and beautifully as she treats readers to a feast for the senses. “The bread delivery has come, and it is my job to sort it on the shelf. There are crusty buns for sandwiches and long sticks called baguettes that look like swords. There are round loaves like doughnuts with holes in the middle and chewy cornbread that looks like big flat stones.” When her Nonno makes Anna Maria a sandwich, our young narrator notes, “I bite into it and crumbs scatter over my shirt. The creamy cheese and salty meat taste fresh and delicious.” Through Schwartz’s prose one can see, hear, feel, smell and taste the simple wonders of the everyday comings and goings of this business.

Laura Beingessner lovingly recreates the essence of this entrepreneurial oasis with her detailed watercolour and ink illustrations. Anna Maria remarks, “The store is tiny, but the shelves are packed with many surprises.” Readers will be drawn to examine the myriad of items inside this shop, as well as its architecture and its place within the surrounding neighbourhood.

Our Corner Grocery Store is a tribute to the small, independent grocers who perform a vital function in our communities. It also lights a beacon, directing us to support these rapidly disappearing establishments. The words of Canadian musician Joni Mitchell sound the warning: “...You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. This charming and heartwarming book reminds us of that fact!

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2009. Vol.32 No.2.

Our Corner Grocery Store

Anna Maria draws pleasure and pride from her grandparents’ corner grocery store. She spends Saturdays helping to arrange produce, greet folks and keep things neat. Through her day we meet the neighbours and learn what an integral role the corner grocery store plays in the community. Charming artwork pairs with this gentle tale.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2010.

Other titles by Joanne Schwartz

Other titles by Laura Beingessner

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