cover image Sidewalk Flowers

Sidewalk Flowers

JonArno Lawson, illus. by Sydney Smith. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55498-431-2

A girl in a hooded red coat walks through the city with her father. He leads her home in silence, leaving her to contemplate the world. She spots flowers growing out of sidewalk cracks. Closing her eyes and sniffing each one, she accumulates a handful, then decides they should be given away. Viewers don’t see what the girl does; instead, they see the results of her work. A dead sparrow on the sidewalk is left with a reverent bouquet on its chest, the gray scene around it flashing into full color. A man sleeping on a bench gets a couple, as does a dog’s collar, and when the girl arrives home, the girl’s mother and siblings receive a scattering of blossoms, too. When viewers last see the girl, she still has one flower, and she’s still walking. If not for Smith’s (Music Is for Everyone) intelligent ink-and-wash panels, his calligraphic pen line, and his delight in sun and shadow, Lawson’s (Think Again) wordless story might have been mawkish. Instead, it’s a reminder that what looks like play can sometimes be a sacrament. Ages 4–7. (Mar.)