Sharon B. Carlos presents Summer’s Sidewalk Messages, a tender, inspiring children’s picture book.
Summer is a young schoolgirl who loves seeing her friends. When Covid-19 hits, her routine is altered: Soccer games and art classes are canceled; school is conducted online, and she’s cut off from hugging her grandmother. Neighbors wear masks, which Summer feels makes “EVERYONE look like a stranger!”
One neighbor, Mr. Allen, has to close his restaurant, while Dr. and Mrs. Kim are always busy working at the hospital. Summer decides to help by drawing beautiful, supportive messages on the sidewalks outside their houses. In front of her own house, she draws a giant smiley face, and when Mrs. Griffin, an older woman in the neighborhood, catches Covid-19, she draws a giant get-well card on the sidewalk.
One evening, Summer’s neighbors show their appreciation by lining up, clapping, and cheering for her, and Summer realizes just how much her messages of hope and love have helped.
As it provides a view of the Covid-19 pandemic from a child’s eyes, the book also reminds readers that everyone, no matter how young, can help in bad situations. Summer is a sweet, memorable character, and her world feels real and relatable. Details in the story and art add to the sense of verisimilitude, such as Summer watching while “leftover cereal sloshed into the sink.”
The prose is kid-friendly, although a few punctuation errors distract, such as the missing question mark in the sentence “How long was ‘a while’ I wondered.” But these issues are far outweighed by the simple storytelling skill overall.
The art is colorful and offers a comforting sense of warmth and texture. Additionally, children will enjoy seeing the photos of actual sidewalk chalk images that inspired the story at the end of the book.
In all, Summer’s Sidewalk Messages is a delightful picture book that demonstrates how to make a bad situation a little better.