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Footpath Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith is a beautiful, creative and moving piece of story telling. Unlike many books we seem to come across in our libraries picture book section, this book was 100% illustration with zero words yet each picture speaks loud and clear a fantastically descriptive and inspirational message.
The way in which the colours begin to emerge more and more as the story progresses reminds me very much of two other illustrated books that have remained amongst my favourites for quite some time; ‘What Do You Do with an Idea?’ and ‘What Do You Do with a Problem?’ By Kobi Yamada and Mae Benson. The story it’s self is just as eye opening and inspirational and left me contemplating ways in which I can keep my focus on all that is beautiful in the world and how I could transport, share and use that to uplift and brighten the lives of others.
This book suitable for all ages and has something to teach each and everyone of us. It’s also a fantastic way to encourage children to describe and interpret what they are seeing; pointing out details in the pictures, discussing colours, locations, people’s actions, feelings, emotions, body language and judging of social situations. For us it lead to a discussion about assumptions. The first time we read it through together I assumed the character in the red jacket was a girl, perhaps because she was picking flowers, it is not until the end of the story however that her gender is revealed as she always has her hair tricked under her hood. Although in this case I was right, it could have easily have been a boy. This led us to a discussion about other assumptions we had made through out the story and assumptions we perhaps make each day in real life.
There are many other topics that could be explored through this book such as homelessness, finding nature in the city, spending time out doors, sharing joy, the use of mobile phones, family, daily exercise, safety, colours, art etc the list is endless.
An activity that I think would be great for children who are able to write would be to get them to write a short description of each picture or page of the book and see what they come up with. If you have more than one child taking part it could be extremely interesting to sit together and compare each other’s interpretations of the pictures and discuss how and why they may have drawn different conclusion or noticed different aspects of the same picture.
I think this book is a gateway to some great discussion opportunities. If you’ve had the pleasure of reading Footpath Flowers i’d love to hear what you thought of it so feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below.