I discovered JonArno Lawson’s work a couple years ago and was thrilled to see Sidewalk Flowers show up on the Star of the North nominee list this year! I expected a collection of his poetry; what I found is an extraordinary picture book which tells the story completely through its pictures alone.
The main character is a little girl walking along the street with her father. She spots some flowers growing through the cracks in the sidewalk and picks them. During the rest of their walk she leaves some of the flowers as gifts with various individuals along the way. For the first half of the book Sydney Smith’s illustrations are primarily black & white, pen & ink with occasional daubs of yellow or pink watercolor. The exception throughout is the bright red hoodie worn by the main character.
Once the little girl begins leaving her flowers as gifts the splashes of watercolors expands to fill in an increasing amount of the pen & ink base. The growing depth of color mirrors the trail of kindness left in the wake of this little girl’s generous and loving actions.
The blurb on the back cover of the book accurately describes Sidewalk Flowers as “an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures.” Sidewalk Flowers is a delight for all ages!