Study Guide

Corduroy Setting

By Don Freeman


Department Store

Most of the action takes place in a big department store, and we must admit we're a little jealous of Corduroy's home. We've often daydreamed of camping out in a department store—its various departments have virtually everything one could possibly need for an amazing sleepover, from clothes and beds to cooking utensils and even food courts.

(We're not the only ones to come up with this idea either. In 2016, IKEA issued a statement asking people to stop holding "non-issued sleepovers" in their stores.)

Of course, when the doors actually lock and it's just you and the weird buzzing of the cooled-down fluorescent lights, the novelty of the idea probably wears off. The department store in Corduroy is no different: big, luxurious, and lonely.

Even when the store is full of shoppers, Corduroy feels invisible because nobody notices him. The department store provides a sharp contrast to the warm and cozy feel of Lisa's apartment. Speaking of which...

Lisa's Apartment

Lisa's apartment only makes an appearance in the book's final pages, but it's still important because it acts as a direct foil to the corporate department store. Freeman clues readers in to this contrast with all the subtlety appropriate for a children's book—which is to say, not much:

The room was small, nothing like that enormous palace in the department store.

Lisa's apartment is different from the department store in every way. The department store is big; her room is small. The department store is stocked with every item money could buy; Lisa's room has a few pieces of furniture. Shoppers take luxurious rides on the store escalator; Lisa runs up four flights of stairs to get back to her apartment.

Freeman only spends a few pages inviting readers into Lisa's world, but he contrasts the two settings effectively enough that even the youngest readers can tell the difference. Corduroy himself instantly recognizes Lisa's apartment as home, the place he's always dreamed of finding.