Sidewalk Flowers

Posted by Anne Uebbing on

Recently, in one of my kids yoga classes, we played charades. The task was to express a word through yoga poses and to include a breathing exercise. A group of four kids ages 8-10, started walking in all directions staring at a pretend phone or holding one by their ears. One stopped in chair pose still doing the same phone gesture, not looking up. Another child laid down still looking at the screen.

The riddle’s answer was PEOPLE. When the word came out I could hear an “Ah, yes!”. I was touched to see how these young kids perceive society these days as absent, lonely and not breathing.

Immediately, I was reminded of a story that I hold very close to my heart. “Sidewalk Flowersby Jon Arno Lawson/Sydney Smith.

When I saw this book for the first time, I was attracted by the dandelions on the cover and the girl with the red coat. Books can trigger memories and this one certainly did it for me. I owned a red coat as a little girl.

After passing pages filled with lovely flowers and birds you become part of a black and white world. Except for the little girl in the red coat holding her dad’s hand. No words, just pictures.


Dad is on the phone.
In a hurry.

As the reader turns the pages and fills the story with their own words, more colours emerge, creating a hopeful, connected and kind feeling just like the little girl does with her gestures.You feel warm and included with every page you turn.

With wordless books children become creative storytellers. Pre-and early readers build important literacy skills such as listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension and structure of stories. By using words of their very own, struggling readers gain confidence and motivation as they read this story time and time again, including new observations and feelings with each
read. This book is also beneficial for children who are being raised in multi language households.

This quiet book is a celebration of children, the importance of small things and small gestures it’s a story for everyone.

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson/Sydney Smith, Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2015 Retail Price: $16.95, Hardcover

Get your copy here.

Me at age 3 holding my mother's hand...


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