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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Books My Son Likes: FROODLE by Antionette Portis

My son is in love with another book – the very funny and adorable Froodle by Antionette Portis.  It’s about what happens when one little brown bird decides she’s tired of saying “Peep,” and wants to say something silly instead, like “Froodle Sproodle!”  The other birds, Crow, Cardinal, and Dove, aren’t too sure about this departure from the norm, especially Crow.  IMG_2255But as silliness is often infectious, soon the other birds start to get in on the fun.

IMG_2256The bright and cheerful illustrations are a treat, but the great fun of this book is in the reading aloud, saying all the nonsense words.  My four-year old is a huge fan of nonsense words.  Heck, I am too!  He likes this book so much that he sometimes reads it out loud to himself, and if I read it to him he often wants me to begin again right after we’ve just finished.  A sure-fire winner in our household.  We have enjoyed previous picture books by Antionette Portis, like Not a Box, and Not a Stick.  She’s one picture book author and illustrator to put on your radar, and someone from whom I will eagerly anticipate a new offering.

My Son’s Current Favorite Book

My son had a birthday yesterday!  He’s four years old, and I truly can hardly believe it.  There’s a quote I heard somewhere, that says “The days are long, but the years are short.”  I totally get that since having my little guy.  Some days seems to last forever, but before you know it he will be in kindergarten!

My husband and I have read to him since birth.  We’re both readers ourselves (Hubby reads mostly non-fiction)  and we wanted to introduce Little Man to the joys of reading from the get-go.  He took to it right away, it seemed.  We still read at every nap time and every bedtime.  When I get home he’ll often ask, “Did you bring me some new books?”  I LOVE that he enjoys reading.  I hope it stays that way for the rest of his life!

He’s already reading independently, which blows me away.  He needs help with big words, but it amazes me what he can sound out.  And once we’ve read a book a few times together, he’s got the thing memorized.

I thought from time to time I’d highlight some of his favorite books.  There are SO MANY great picture books out there that deserve to be shared and celebrated!

Right now he’s loving this:

IMG_1917Tools Rule! by Aaron Meshon.

He’s a tool guy, just like his Dad.  But there’s a lot to like about this picture book even if your little guy or gal isn’t tool-crazy.  Brightly colored illustrations, anthropomorphized tools, and humorous, pun-ny dialogue (just what little kids like) make this a great read-aloud.

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My son’s favorite page.

The tools are all scattered about the messy yard, until T-Square decides to organize everyone.  They work together to build themselves a shed, so there’s a nice theme of cooperation throughout.  It introduces kids to some tools they may not know about (I don’t even know what an awl does!) so their vocabularies may expand!

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The mower says, “Looks sharp!”

My son likes this so much, more than once he’s asked us to begin again right after we’ve finished reading it.  That’s the mark of a winner!  So check out Tools Rule!