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MAMA AND PAPA HAVE A STORE by Amelia Lau Carling


by Amelia Lau Carling & illustrated by Amelia Lau Carling

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8037-2044-0
Publisher: Dial

Carling’s first solo outing recounts a day in the life of her family’s general store in the heart of Guatemala City. Her family has fled a war in China and opened the store, stocking Chinese goods that are a hit with the local Guatemalan, Mayan, and Chinese populations. It is in the details that Carling finds her memory sparked, as she recalls lottery ticket and candy sellers; lunchtime, when her brothers and sisters would come home from school and sled down their waxed tin roof; the afternoon storms; laundry flapping on the roof; the clic-clac of her father’s abacus as he tallied the day’s sales. Carling’s watercolors are also about those details: the shop brimming with goods, the Chinese touches throughout her home, her mother applying lipstick before returning to the store after lunch. Through these scenes run members of the expatriate Chinese community, filtering in and out of the store to chat and have tea or a plate of fish and hot peppers. The tone of the book is subdued, but this is a remarkable and affectionate story of one family’s resilience, of grace under fire, of how a life can flourish under trying circumstances, and how ordinary scenes can be bracketed and transformed by a child’s “The day begins like this” and “This is how the day ends.” (Picture book. 4-8)