The first picture book that the award-winning Sydney Smith has both written and illustrated is a story about feeling small in the city — and finding your way home.
On a snowy day in a big city, a little boy hops off a streetcar and walks through downtown, between office buildings, through parks and down busy streets. Along the way, he provides helpful tips about which alleys make good shortcuts, which trees to climb and where to find a friendly face. All the while, the boy searches for what he has lost …
The first book that award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith has written tells a story of what it means to get lost in the city, travel the wrong path and get caught in bad weather — and to ultimately find your way back home. His beautiful watercolour illustrations alternate between full spreads and small panels, evoking the sometimes overwhelming cacophony of urban sights and sounds, as well as the quiet moments that make all of us feel less small in the city.
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)
Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.
In his solo debut, Smith (Town Is by the Sea) follows a bundled-up child walking in winter amid tall buildings, traffic, and telephone poles. "I know what it's like to be small in the city," the narration begins. As it continues, readers slowly realize that the child is addressing someone in particular. Snow starts to swirl, and the child begins to offer advice: watch out for big dogs; a dryer vent might be a good place for a nap ("you could curl up below it"). The winter wind whips, and snow swirls faster. The child bends over a knapsack for a pink sheet of paper; "LOST," it reads, over a picture of a cat. (A look back reveals the posters affixed all over town.) "If you want," the child says, in words readers now understand are directed at the lost feline, "you could just come back." Smith's understated portrait of longing for the return of a beloved family member takes readers on a quiet but powerful emotional journey, one whose intensity Smith tracks visually as the winter storm becomes a blizzard and the driving wind makes it nearly impossible to see until, just as suddenly, it lifts. The story's spotlight is not on the loss of the pet, or on its return, but on the state of suspension in between a mixture of grief, resignation, and patient waiting and the independent child narrator's loving regard for the animal as an autonomous being. Ages 4 8.