Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith
Spring is coming! Start sharing the joy of rebirth – and all the small surprises that the new warmth brings – with this wordless, magical book from our northern neighbors. Here, even weeds can be the most thoughtful, transformative of gifts.
Daddy and daughter – we’ll call her Little Red because she’s garbed in a bright red hoodie – are walking home, hand-in-hand, ferrying groceries with them. Daddy is clearly on a mission, bee-lining, multitasking on the way with phone calls, a neighborly handshake, a distant wave, and the occasional turnaround to make sure Little Red is never far from his outstretched hand.
While the two might be walking together, Little Red’s experience is something else entirely: she watches the world around her in wonder, notices the blooms just beginning to peek through the sidewalks, and stops not only to smell the flowers, but to gather them to share with those who need them most. Silently, empathetically, she places her first blooms on a fallen bird, tucks another in a sleeping homeless man’s shoe, decorates a waiting dog’s collar, and keeps spreading the blooms all around …
Poet author JonArno Lawson creates joy in motion. Collaborating artist Sydney Smith captures his vision on the page, using black-and-white and splashes of color to enhance the narrative. Daddy’s black-and-white world emphasizes all that he misses as he hurries along, his attention mostly elsewhere on that device stuck to his other hand. Little Red lives in color, the world around her glowing vibrantly from her attention – not only the flowers, but the fruit on the sidewalk stand, the taxis whizzing by carrying strangers she watches, the treasures of glass she notices in a store display, the grass that turns green in the park only after she – not Daddy – skips along the path. Her noticing, seeing, appreciating eventually brings full colors to the page, until every spread is softly awash with the many hues of bustling motion, of cooing, biking, fetching, running, waving … and hugging.
Readers, too, get special recognition. The single waiting passenger-to-be at the bus stop with an open book has an eye-popping dress that surely gets her noticed: you better believe books open our eyes to brand new worlds. Here’s a perfect place to start. Open up!
Tidbit: Need more enticement? Check out this sigh-inducing trailer. And parents, take warning: the little ones aren’t going to want to hold your hand forever … revel in those little grasping fingers while you still can!