________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 23 . . . . February 20, 2015


Sidewalk Flowers.

JonArno Lawson. Illustrated by Sydney Smith.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover & pdf, $16.95 (hc.), $14.95 (pdf).
ISBN 978-1-55498-431-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-432-9 (pdf).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

**** /4


Wordless picture books are an important part of a library collection. They support all kinds of speaking, writing and storytelling activities for preschool and primary aged children.

internal art      Interestingly, although Sidewalk Flowers is a story without words, both an author and an illustrator are credited here. According to the jacket copy, this work was "conceived by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and beautifully brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith". It is hard to tell whose artistic inspiration is at work on any given element.

      Pen-and-ink and watercolour pictures take readers on a walk through modern urban streets with a father and his child. Dad talks on his cell phone, bored people wait at a bus stop, a few of the stores have Asian signage, making this a familiar scene to most city dwellers. Showing up as a splash of red on a mostly monochromatic background, a small child in a hooded jacket picks flowering weeds like dandelions and buttercups found growing between cracks in the pavement and bricks in the wall as she walks along.

      Later in the book, our neighbourhood explorer begins to leave floral tokens behind: on a dead bird in the park, under the collar of a friendly dog.

      As man and child near home, more and more colour is added to each page. The final spreads are in luminous washes of green and brown, where the red jacket still stands out boldly. After getting a hug from Mom, the central character walks through the house to the back yard where she leaves flowers with two younger siblings. The book ends with her looking up at a flock of birds flying overhead, with a blossom tucked behind her ear.

      Sidewalk Flowers is an outstanding example of a wordless picture book, and I was absolutely charmed by it. There is so much to look at and talk about in both concrete and abstract terms. Whoever did what here did it very well.

Highly Recommended.

Ellen Heaney is a retired children's librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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