Footpath Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith
This week I received a text from a very good friend saying she’d left something on my doorstep. I went to look, and found this book, Footpath Flowers. When I saw her a few days later she said she knew I was going through a rough time, and was going to leave me some flowers. But instead she saw the book and knew that it would be a far better gift. She was spot on. I have been going through a rough time, but this blog has really helped me. So here I am, writing a book review for a truly beautiful book that has helped me realise that even when you think you are dealing with something alone, there are people out there thinking of you.
Foopath Flowers is a wordless picture book. Readers will know that I have previously written that good wordless picture books are invaluable at helping children develop speech and language and thinking skills. This book is no exception. This book is also an absolute joy to behold. It gently tells the story of a little girl going home with her father, following a shopping trip. But the story is so, so much more than this. The little girl, through the simplest of acts, shares love and kindness along the way. This is a beautiful story and one that is definitely worth reading.
5 Reasons to Read
1 It teaches your child to look deeper
One of the reasons this book stands out is that it is wordless and yet it has an author…. Sounds a bit odd I hear you say! The author, JonArno Lawson is an author and a poet. In this beautifully illustrated book, JonArno Lawson has created a narrative that is truly poetic. Great poems can be read over and over and each reading brings different interpretations. This book is the same. Read it with your child once and talk about it. Read it again. What do you notice now? Keep going and keep talking. By helping your child to go deeper with a children’s book, you are helping them develop skills, and hopefully pleasure, in looking beyond the obvious.
2 Anyone can make a difference
The little girl creates a little posy of, well basically, weeds. She could have held on to them until she got home, but she doesn’t. She places them, unceremoniously, in places which undoubtedly demonstrates her inate love for living, and once living, animals and people. It appears that she expects no thanks, just giving for the sake of giving. This is a lesson not just for children, but for us all.
3 The narrative is from the little girl’s viewpoint
The narrative is the way the story is written, or in this case, drawn. This book has a simple story. A little girl picks wild flowers and gives them away. It is the narrative that draws us in to the story and gives us a sense of being part of it. We see the little girl spotting the footpath flowers, often in unusual places, reaching out to get them. This is very typical of young children, who see the world from a completely different viewpoint, rightfully unburdened by life’s stresses. Many stories are told in the third person, using the voice of an unseen narrator. Footpath Flowers, by telling the story from the little girl’s viewpoint, is giving children a different perspective.
4 The use of colour
The story starts almost completely in black and white. Slowly, coulour starts to creep in as the story progresses, in line with the little girl’s act of kindness. What a lovely way to show that a little bit of love can bring colour into all our lives. A simple lesson, and one worth remembering.
5 The father
When I first read the book, I felt the father was not engaged with the little girl. This was because he is never seen to be talking to her and is often on the phone. However, on re-reading and studying the book, as is so important to do, I got a different impression. The father is a constant presence, always offering a hand to hold and patiently waiting when the little girl is, so tenderly, placing her flowers. It is this quiet, understated love that I find so appealing. In this day and age it is not always possible that parents can be a constant presence in their child’s life. However, what does matter, is that, when there is time to be present, parents demonstrate unconditional love in a way that suits them. Walking quietly, hand in hand, is one charming way of doing this.
Additional Learning Opportunities
- Go for a walk and spot wildflowers. I wonder how many you can find.
- Go to a botanical garden and learn more about the huge variety of plants.
- Collect some wildflowers and either press them or use them to make a collage.
- Discuss what other small acts of kindness could help to lift someone’s day and maybe put one or two into action.
- Read Little Red Riding Hood.