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Children's Fiction General

Sidewalk Flowers

by (author) JonArno Lawson

illustrated by Sydney Smith

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Mar 2015
General, Parents, Imagination & Play
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2015
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2015
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2
  • Reading age: 4 to 7


Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Illustrated Book

A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year

In this wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.

“Written” by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith, Sidewalk Flowers is an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures.


Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:


Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.

About the authors

Born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised nearby in Dundas, JonArno Lawson's most formative experiences as a child occurred in Florida which he visited for an extended stay at the age of eight. Happy to be missing almost an entire year of school, he filled his days at the beach digging holes and collecting shells and coconuts, travelling in glass-bottomed boats and touring nature parks that featured free-roaming monkeys and parrots. He wore a ship captain's hat at all times, and a green pouch in which he kept dozens of ticket stubs, a musket ball, brass souvenir coins that bore the faces of various American presidents, and other treasures which he hoards to this day. JonArno is a two-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Children's Poetry, for Black Stars in a White Night Sky in 2007 and again in 2009 for A Voweller's Bestiary. In 2011 his poetry collection Think Again was short-listed for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award. JonArno lives in Toronto with his wife Amy Freedman and his children Sophie, Ashey and Joseph, all of whom assist the author with phrases, topics and sometimes even complete lines for use in his poems.

JonArno Lawson's profile page

Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia and has been drawing from an early age. Since graduating from NSCAD University, he has illustrated multiple children’s books, including the highly acclaimed wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by Jon Arno Lawson, which won a Governor General’s Award, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book and has been long-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal. He is also the illustrator of Grant and Tillie Go Walking by Monica Kulling and The White Cat and the Monk by Jo Ellen Bogart, both highly acclaimed. Sydney has received a number of other awards for his illustrations, including the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration. He now lives in Toronto and works in a shared studio space in Chinatown.

Sydney Smith's profile page


  • Short-listed, Andersen Prize — Best Book With No Words
  • Commended, IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities
  • Winner, Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books
  • Winner, Michigan Library Association Mitten Award
  • Commended, A Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year
  • Winner, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
  • Commended, ALA Notable Children's Book
  • Short-listed, CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Winner, National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for Book Illustration
  • Commended, TD Summer Reading Club Top Recommended Reads
  • Winner, Cybils Award, Fiction Picture Book
  • Commended, NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children, Recommended Book
  • Winner, Booksource Scout Award, Favorite Picture Book
  • Commended, Globe 100 Best Books
  • Commended, Horn Book Fanfare
  • Commended, 49th Shelf Favourite Picture Books of the Year
  • Commended, School Library Journal Best Picture Books of the Year
  • Commended, New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Illustrated Books
  • Commended, New York Public Library Best 100 Books for Reading and Sharing
  • Long-listed, Goodreads Choice Award for Best Picture Book
  • Commended, Kirkus Best Picture Books of the Year
  • Commended, Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
  • Commended, National Post Best Books of the Year

Editorial Reviews

Affecting, efficient, moving, kind. Lawson’s done the impossible. He wrote poetry into a book without a single word, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

A Fuse #8 Production

A quiet, graceful book about the perspective-changing wonder of humble, everyday pleasures.


A poignant, wordless storyline . . . this ode to everyday beauty sings sweetly.


An emotionally moving, visually delightful ode to the simple powers of observation and empathy. . . . A book to savor slowly and then revisit again and again.

School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

A reminder that what looks like play can sometimes be a sacrament.

Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

I’d give this book to anyone with a coffee table, in a household with or without children.

New York Times

Sidewalk Flowers wraps readers in kindness, tenderness, generosity and wonder.


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Other titles by Sydney Smith

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