Perfect Picture Book Friday: OSCAR’S AMERICAN DREAM

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I love today’s featured book!

When I was growing up, we lived with my grandmother who had sailed to America when she was a teenager. She told me stories of those early days in New York City and so, when I read OSCAR’S AMERICAN DREAM, it brought back happy memories.


Written by Barry Wittenstein

Illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

Published by Schwartz & Wade

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Diversity, neighborhoods, immigrants

Synopsis: From Amazon:

If you want to see 20th century American history unfold before your eyes, stand on a city street corner and watch it change! It all starts when an immigrant named Oscar opens a barber shop…

When Oscar lands on Ellis Island, he has only a suitcase and a down payment in his hands. And he has a dream– to own his own barbershop. After it opens on the corner of Front St. and Second Ave, Oscar’s barbershop becomes a beloved local fixture… until the day Oscar decides to move on and become a subway conductor. Over the years, this barbershop will change hands to become a lady’s clothing store, then a soup kitchen. A coffee shop follows, then the space becomes an army recruitment center, then a candy shop. As the years pass and the world changes, the proud corner store stands tall, watching American history unfold around it. Barry Wittenstein and debut husband-and-wife illustration team Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell tell the rich, fascinating story of key moments in American history, as reflected through the eyes–and the patrons–of the corner store.

Why I love this book:

  1. Powerful look at how a neighborhood changes – and how it stays the same.
  2. Fabulous illustrations – vivid and diverse.
  3. I grew up on the Lower East Side of NYC and passed Front Street and Second Avenue many times – turning the pages of this book was like walking down memory lane.


Make a Map of Your Neighborhood

Photo courtesy:

Take a walk around your neighborhood…then help your child draw a map showing where the streets are and where your house is and any other landmarks – stores, library, post office, bookstore, etc. For detailed instructions:

Click this link for a wonderful teacher/parent guide with activities for kids

OSCAR’S AMERICAN DREAM is Barry Wittenstein’s latest picture book…you won’t want to miss it! You can buy it, review it, tell your friends about it, and ask your library to purchase copies for their shelves.

For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities, please visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend…please stay safe and well!

13 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: OSCAR’S AMERICAN DREAM

  1. I love having immigrant experiences told by relatives. My mother’s parents were immigrants from Russia and hardly spoke about their experiences to my mother. They wanted to be Americans! My grandfather’s father was an engraver for the Tsar and the one story passed down: My grandfather used to sit on the Tsar’s lap and get chocolate. Barry Wittenstein and Vivian, thanks for sharing.


  2. This is a walk down memory lane! I love it! It sounds unique, though, as it detours and follows what happens after Oscar’s dream comes true, since it follows the life of the original barbershop. I think I’d love reading this book. Thanks for sharing, Vivian.


  3. When I taught 2nd grade, I would have picked up this book. It met so many standards, and it also looks like a book that could help today’s kids meet the past. Thanks to you Vivian for another wonderful interview, and to Barry for another great book.


  4. Oscar’s American Dream sounds like a fabulous story Barry Wittenstein and the pictures by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell are so inviting. Love the premise of the history of a corner store and what happens to it over the years. Looking forward to reading it. Thank you for another excellent post, Vivian Kirkfield!

    Liked by 1 person

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