Sidewalk Flowers Now Translated in 15 Different Languages

Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith, has now been translated into fifteen different languages. While impending translations (Simplified Chinese, Farsi and Vietnamese) have yet to arrive at the office, we wrangled together the twelve we had on hand at Groundwood HQ:

ENGLISH (Special Edition for Syrian refugees)
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CZECH
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FRENCH (Québécois)
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ENGLISH (UK)
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GERMAN
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PORTUGUESE
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CHINESE (Complex)
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JAPANESE
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FRENCH (Parisian)
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DUTCH
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KOREAN
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MEXICAN SPANISH
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The Important Landmarks of Sidewalk Flowers

In Sidewalk Flowers, 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.

In The Horn Book Magazine‘s May/June 2016 Special Issue on Collaborations, Sydney Smith has illustrated a full-page spread on The Important Landmarks of Sidewalk Flowers — landmarks that include The Art Gallery of Ontario, JonArno Lawson’s home, and “the rusty train bridge.” The map itself is a collaborative piece on collaboration; the map was evolved and thought through by both Sydney and JonArno Lawson together, though the final illustration was done by Sydney.

Click on the image below to expand the illustration and view the landmarks — how many have you been to or walked by?

Sidewalk Flowers published by Groundwood Books


Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney SmithWinner 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.

Enter to win Groundwood Favourites!

Groundwood Favorites Giveaway

We won!

In celebration of being named Best Children’s Publisher of the Year in North America by the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, we’re giving away three of our favourite Groundwood titles:

  1. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
  2. Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith
  3. Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

The contest runs from April 6th to April 20th. A winner will be randomly chosen. Fill out the form below to enter!

Sidewalk Flowers for Syrian Refugee Families

Groundwood Logos SpineIBBY Canada, the Canadian national section of the International Board on Books for Young People, will be providing every Syrian refugee family coming to Canada a children’s book along with a card in English, French and Arabic encouraging children and their families to go to their public library where they will find so many of the resources they will need for their new lives.

Every Syrian refugee family will receive a copy of Sidewalk Flowers, written by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith. In this Governor General’s Award winning 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. It is a wordless picture book with no language barriers, and it can be enjoyed across cultures by children and parents alike.

All royalties and printing costs from this distribution will be donated, and Groundwood will be foregoing any revenues.

You can read the full news release from IBBY Canada, along with further details of the initiative, here: http://bit.ly/1ITqAV7

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Enter to win a Sidewalk Flowers gift package

Today we were thrilled to learn that the fabulous Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith has won the Governor General’s Children’s Literature Award for Illustrated Book. As if that wasn’t enough, mere hours later the wordless picture book was named one of the 10 best illustrated books of the year by The New York Times! We want to share this winning feeling, so so we have a special giveaway for our friends on the internet!

One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of the book and a 17” x 20” poster, along with four pieces of sidewalk chalk for making your own stories, all pictured below:

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This contest is open to residents of North America (excluding Quebec). We will accept entries until midnight on Tuesday, November 3rd, and will contact the winner by email on Wednesday, November 4th.

Good luck!

Sorry! Contest closed!

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Sidewalk Flowers: a love letter to Toronto from illustrator Sydney Smith

Groundwood Logos Spine

When I received an email from Groundwood asking me to illustrate JonArno’s story Sidewalk Flowers, my partner, Maggie, and I had already decided to relocate from Halifax to Toronto for her to study at Ryerson. And I was nervous.

I had tried moving to Toronto nine years before. I worked there in unbearable heat, with a bad case of poison ivy, digging out a basement on Lawrence Avenue for a temp agency that paid you in coins from a vending machine. I hitchhiked back to Halifax immediately.

Biking

But this time was different. I was older; I had a purpose and someone to share it with. Immediately, the city was exciting and infinite with so many things to discover. Each day I biked to my tiny studio space in Chinatown from our tinier apartment and I would sketch and photograph the people, the bent bikes, the old buildings, the sparrows, and the streetcar wires. Working on JonArno’s beautiful story, full of tenderness and beauty, forced me to look around at my new home and see how magical it really is. The images I made for this story are my love letter to Toronto.

Sidewalk-photos

Sidewalk-Sketches


Sydney Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia, and has been drawing since an early age. Since graduating from NSCAD University, he has illustrated multiple children’s books, including the wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, and he has received 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 where he eats too many banh mi sandwiches and goes to the library or the Art Gallery of Ontario on his breaks.

Sidewalk Flowers – Writing a Story Without Words

JonArno Lawson is the author of numerous books for children and adults, including Enjoy It While It Hurts, Down in the Bottom of the Bottom of the Box, and Think Again. He is a four-time winner of the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Children’s Poetry. He lives in Toronto with his wife and three children. We asked him to share the story behind his new wordless picture book, Sidewalk Flowers.

Groundwood Logos Spine 

The storyline of Sidewalk Flowers evolved directly out of a walk I took with my daughter, Sophie, from her art class near the corner of Bathurst and Dupont, to our house on Arlington. I can even tell you the date of the walk – June 18th, 2008.

Sophie was seven at the time. My son, JoJo, was two days old, and my middle son, Ashey, was four. My wife, Amy, was home with Ashey and JoJo, and I wanted to get back quickly – I looked for a cab, but couldn’t get one to stop. I was rushing (it’s an hour’s walk), not paying close attention to Sophie or what she was doing. Bathurst Street looked grey and ugly – I was full of worry, not really seeing the world around me.

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Suddenly I noticed that Sophie was gathering flowers – the tiny little flowers that poke up through cement cracks – things like pineapple weed, dandelion, clover and vetch, and she was singing. When we got home she decorated JoJo’s hat with some of the flowers, gave some to Ashey, some to Amy, and then she went off and did something else. Ashey was even playing outside with snails when we got home (as in the book!).

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It seemed symbolic to me – Sophie finding colour in the grey world, and then giving away what she’d found – and she didn’t seem to be conscious of what she was doing at all, which also seemed important. I realized it would make a beautiful book – without any words, with bits of colour building through a black, white and grey world – I could picture it, but wasn’t capable of capturing it in pictures. The editorial genius of Sheila Barry and the illustrative genius Sydney Smith were both required to make it what it is now.

How to Write a Story Without Words

JonArno Lawson is a writer, but he imagined Sidewalk Flowers as a wordless picture book. So how did he write a story without words? Here are some pictures of his original manuscript. Sydney Smith used JonArno’s notes and storyboard, and photos and sketches from his own walks around Toronto to bring Sidewalk Flowers to life.

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