Quiet. Gentle. Subtle. Sidewalk Flowers reminds us wordlessly that there is beauty in the banal waiting to be spotted and treasured and shared. The red-hooded little girl we follow in this book seems to innately understand this as she walks through a grey city with her distracted father, seeking out dandelions and thistle, colour poking up between paving slabs.
As the girl moves through everyday scenes of city life, she leaves the wild flowers she picks as gifts for unexpected and unexpecting recipients — a dead sparrow lying on a park path, an old man sleeping on bench, a tough looking dog outside the local bodega, her mother and siblings playing in their back garden. She is love. She transforms the world around her. Notice the little things this book whispers. See what we can not when we are distracted by our own insistence on efficiency and busyness and process. If the little girl is spreading love represented by wildflowers, it is important to note the final scene where the girl tucks the last flower behind her own ear and goes off to find some more.
Sidney Smith’s artwork makes it nearly impossible to choose a favourite image. I could go on but instead I implore you to go out and seek this ravishing work for yourself.