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

 

Here I Am

HereIam

Image Credit: Picture Window Books (Capstone Young Readers), Patti Kim/Sonia Sánchez

Whether escaping war, oppression, famine or discrimination, the United States has long been a place for new beginnings for people all over the world. Safe in our homes, it can be hard to put ourselves in the shoes of others, in the shoes of people who are fleeing their old life to make something better. Can you imagine being plucked from your home and while trying to hold on to what you know and understand, being placed in an entirely new (and sometimes scary) environment?

Reading Here I Am reminded me of the struggles of Syrian refugees trying to make new homes in various countries around the world. In this book, a young boy and his family leave Korea to make a new home in the US. This wordless picture book is inspired by the author Patti Kim’s experience leaving Korea at four years old to travel to the US. Her story, combined with Sonia Sánchez’s expressive and energetic art, is a moving tale of immigration.

In Here I Am, a child steps off a plane with his red seed from home tucked safely inside his pocket. It’s easy to see his confusion and reluctance to adjust to his new life. The words on sign posts and restaurants are a jumbled mess and all he hears from his teacher is “Blah Blah Blah” but…his red seed is comfort. He holes away in his family’s apartment, not ready to explore UNTIL…he drops his precious seed out the window and a girl picks it up and goes off with it! As he rushes down the stairs and begins to explore his city, he realizes how fascinating his new home is. Like his seed, he blooms and grows with his new friend, the new connection he makes in his new home.

This book is excellent for discussing difference, feelings and change and I hope you will keep this story with you!

Recommended for: Kindergarten and up
Great for: Diversity, Wordless, Moving, Immigration, Family, Friendship, We Need Diverse Books, Community, Discussion, Storyboarding
Book Info: Here I Am by Patti Kim/Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez, 2014 Picture Window Books (Capstone Young Readers), ISBN: 9781623700362