If you haven’t yet read “Sidewalk Flowers,” do check it out. I think it speaks as much to adults as it does to children.
Title: Sidewalk Flowers
Written by: JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by: Sydney Smith
Groundwood Books, 2015, Fiction
Suitable for Ages: School Library Journal suggests this book for Kindergarten through grade 3, but I tend to agree with Carmela Ciuraru who wrote, in a New York Times book review, “I’d give this book to anyone with a coffee table, in a household with or without children.”
Themes/Topics: nature (in an urban setting); empathy/kindness; wonder/observation
First line: This is a wordless picture book. Its poetry resides in the story told by an exquisite series of illustrations. The first shows us a girl and her father walking down a city street. The scene is rendered entirely in black and white EXCEPT for one splash of color – the girl’s red hoodie.
Brief Synopsis: (from the publisher) “…a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.
“Written” by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith, “Sidewalk Flowers” is an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures.”
Ideas for Teachers: Because it is wordless, but full of evocative and emotional images, it is a perfect choice for a child of any age to “read” to an adult. Teachers might also read this story in conjunction with “A Dog Day” by Emily Rand and “Ask Me” by Bernard Waber, which also tell the story of a walk. See this New York Times book review for more information about those two picture books: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/books/review/a-dog-day-ask-me-and-sidewalk-flowers.html?_r=0
Why I Love This Book: I love this book for its exquisite illustrations, for the sense of wonder it bears witness to, and because it is a kind of love poem – an ode to the powers of observation and generosity. The little girl finds nature even in the city; wildflowers sprout from unlikely places. And on the last page, she lifts her gaze to birds flying overhead. Finally, I love it for its gentle reminder to distracted parents: take the time to observe with the eyes of a child and you may recover your sense of wonder.