books about family, books about nature, books about the urban environment, books for boys, books for girls, books to prompt story telling, books without words, Footpath Flowers, jon Arno Lawson, picture books, Sydney Smith
It’s been a long time since I picked up a picture book for the blog. Now my children are older and I no longer work in the school library I just don’t make time for them enough. It’s something I hope to change in the next month or two, because when I come across a picture book as lovely as Footpath Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith I wonder why I don’t read more.
This is a beautiful thing. It is a book without words, and your imagination and your interaction with the characters is what shapes the story for you. At first, the pictures are monochrome, apart from the heroine of the piece, a little girl with a bright red, hooded coat like Red Riding Hood.
The little girl seems to be making her way home through the city with her father. As they traverse the streets she sees small pops of colour, the footpath flowers of the title. She picks them, and as she goes on her way she distributes them to various people and creatures she meets.
The story is as simple or complicated as you want to make it. There are moments of great pathos and moments of great joy. I particularly liked the fact that the perspective is that of the little girl, and you zoom in on details that as an adult you might miss. I also loved that as she travels through the pages of her journey, the colour explodes across the page, until, by the time she gets home, there is colour everywhere.
It’s fun, beautifully drawn and cleverly conceived. It is sophisticated without being obvious, and there is a great deal to this book that means it would stand reading and re-reading. It’s a wonderful exercises for the imagination. If I were an early years teacher I’d love to have this in my classroom to stimulate ideas about what story telling is and can do. It would also be a great aid in older years to prompt story writing and narrative techniques.