Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson

Like many of you, I’ve been sad and anxious in the wake of last Thursday’s and Friday’s terrorist attacks on Paris and Beirut.  I’ve fretted about the world my son in growing up in – is it really worse now than it was when I was a child, or was I simply blissfully unaware of the atrocities that were surely happening then?  I have been actively seeking out evidence that the world is NOT going to hell in a handbasket.  Any book, poem, article, piece of art or music that reminds me that there are still many, many good and kind people in the world is a balm to my soul right now.  I believe we have to be intentional about seeking out and celebrating kindness in times like these.

To that end, I want to share a picture book I happened upon this week.  The 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards are being voted upon now.  I wanted to read some of the nominated picture books that I hadn’t yet seen, so I ordered a few from other branches in my library system, and Sidewalk Flowers was one of them.  IMG_2685I am absolutely captivated by this beautiful wordless picture book.  It depicts a little girl walking in the big city with her dad, who is talking on a cell phone and is distracted.  At every opportunity along the way home, she stops to pick flowers she spies growing out of cracks in the sidewalk.  How sweet, I thought.  A meditation on seeing beauty everywhere, noticing the moment.

And then I turned the page, and saw the dead bird lying on the park sidewalk.  IMG_2688The girl leaves some flowers on its still, small breast.  Something in me broke open a little bit.

I also liked this image, of her dad shaking hands with a man, possibly a neighbor or friend, while she shakes hands with the man’s dog. IMG_2689 She adorns the pooch with flowers too.

This is a book about kindness, about beauty, about being present, about knowing your neighbors and spreading joy in your neck of the woods.  It’s about family, and love, and the natural world that exists even in the largest of cities.  It says so much without using any words.  I’m so glad I happened upon it, especially this week.  Goodness abounds, and even in the midst of darkness and sadness, there is still much wonder and joy to celebrate.

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