Sidewalk Flowers

Groundwood Logos Spine

Image Credit: Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), JonArno Lawson/Sydney Smith


I love seeing books about dads and their daughters. This relationship isn’t common to see in picture books but when its done right, it’s something special. Check out Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang for another great one.

Sidewalk Flowers features wordless comic strip-like panels that show inner city life. The pages are gray, black and white save for a bright streak of red for the girl’s cloak and oh, if you look closely…is that a flower growing quietly? A young curious girl explores her city while holding her father’s hand on a walk to run errands. He’s often on his phone but she’s tuned into the bustle, the people and the flowers. They are still connected though and she’s busy collecting her flower prizes. As they walk through the park, she gives a small gift for a fallen friend, a dozing friend and hairy friend. She brings color to what she touches and the pages slowly bloom.

Initially Smith’s illustrations highlight contrasting black and white lines, but he throws in moments of color as the story progresses. His watercolor illustrations are great and vibrant; it’s not a busy kind of vibrant but rather a comfortable vibrancy. The father and daughter enjoy each other’s company and its easy to see how much the girl is a part of her community and how much she is loved.

***P.S. UPDATE! This book was chosen to be given as a gift to every Syrian refugee family in Canada! Wow. It’s the perfect book for welcoming. ❤

Read about it here!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Community, Discussion, Wordless, Animals, Family, Quiet Moments, Father-Daughter
Book Info: Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson/Illustrated by Sydney Smith, 2015 Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press), ISBN: 9781554984312



A Letter for Leo


Image Credit: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Sergio Ruzzier

Leo the Mailman is a proud member of his community. Without fail he delivers the mail and is an all around nice guy. But Leo wishes for one thing more than anything; someone to send a letter to him! One morning he opens the mailbox to find a peculiar little package, a baby blue bird. The little bird was left behind by his flock and Leo takes him in without hesitation. They quickly become family but soon little bird grows up and has to return to his flock. After a tearful goodbye, Leo goes back to his daily routine but…what’s that in the mailbox for him??

A Letter for Leo is excellent because it’s a simple, sweet, feel good story about friendship. Ruzzier’s storytelling and illustrations are well matched; the soft watercolor illustrations are reflective and cute. The cover is beautifully composed with swirls of color, Leo confidently delivering the mail and little bird looking up with admiration at his friend. Just look at Leo in his hat! He’s adorable. This book shines in its quiet confidence. It is a great story about the importance of love, friendship and how little changes in our lives can make the biggest difference!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Friendship, Community, Discussion, Animals, Family, Read-Aloud
Book Info: A Letter for Leo by Sergio Ruzzier, 2014 Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), ISBN: 9780544223608