Review Blog

Aug 21 2015

Footpath flowers by Jon Arno Lawson

cover image

Ill. by Sydney Smith. Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781406362084
(Age: Junior primary) Highly recommended. Small things, Childhood, Environment. A young girl and her father walk through the city back to their house. Along the way she collects the flowers she spies growing in the most unusual places, around a telegraph pole, in the cracks between the pavement of the footpath, or the gaps between the cement layers on a bridge or the spaces between the pavers near the bus stop. She picks herself a small bunch of flowers, smelling their perfume as they walk, and she gives a flower to those she meets along the way. Each of the recipients sees their environment in a different way because of her gift, and eventually her dad, the one who walked the same route and saw nothing, also opens his eyes.
Father with his bag of shopping and his mobile phone often at his ear, simply walks the route, but the girl, resplendent in her red coat, sees all. She spies out the flowers, finding their colour in most unusual places, sees the people standing in a queue for a bus, the contents of the shop windows, the dead bird on the ground. In giving away the flowers she brings colour to the world, the person asleep on the park bench, the dog, and finally her own family.
The wonderful illustrations begin with the stark ink buildings. Shadows run across the pages as the two walk with their shopping. The sights of the city are there to see, but she sees the smaller things, the important things, the flowers at their feet. More colour is added to the pages as she delivers her flowers, and the pages become softer as they enter the family home. Smith offers us a world full of small things, and the young reader will delight picking them out on each page. They will see what the young girl sees, and marvel at her small gestures of kindness in offering flowers to those she meets.
A wordless hymn to the importance of the little things, this picture book will delight and charm those who read it.
Fran Knight

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