Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Illustrated by Sydney Smith

I picked up an absolutely lovely book the other day: JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith‘s Sidewalk Flowers (2015, Groundwood Books) and am excited to share it with you today. I have included some of the panels from this wordless children’s book here:

Sidewalk Flowers is about a little girl who picks flowers as she walks through the city blocks with her father, who is often on his cell phone. She gives the flowers she picks to a bird, dog, and gentleman on a bench.  When the little girl and her father arrive home, she goes into the backyard, which is filled with what might not be very surprising: flowers.

Here’s what I LOVE about this book.

(1) It’s wordless. Lawson does a fabulous job composing a story with no words. I think books like this help students see that a story does not have to have words and yet it can have many of the traditional elements of plot. I also think the wordless nature of the text is part of the book’s overall message: We need more silence, more time to appreciate the nature that is around us. Sidewalk flowers are simply a metaphor for the things we often miss in this world of instantaneous gratification and racing down the road with our cell phones attached to our ears.

(2) The drawings are spectacular. I read about the media used in this book. The School Library Journal wrote about the way the book combines pen and ink drawings with watercolor. Whereas the contrast between the little girl’s read coat and the black and white background behind her is present in the early parts of the book, the latter pages are full of color and vibrancy. You can view more drawings from Sidewalk Flowers on Smith’s website.

(3) We need stories like this in the world in which we live. This story is about appreciating the beauty around us and human generosity that exists at our core. The book’s hopefulness is refreshing and needed. We should all carry the message of Sidewalk Flowers into our lives that have become more stress than joy and more quick than slow.

This is a book I will definitely share next week when my children’s literature students and I explore picture book illustrations, and it will be on my next ‘Current Favorites’ list, which will be coming out very soon!

Let me know what you think about Sidewalk Flowers in the comments below, and be sure to follow katiereviewsbooks if you haven’t already!

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