Oscar’s Tower of Flowers

h1 May 18th, 2021 by jules

(Click spread to enlarge)


Lauren Tobia sees her author-illustrator debut in Oscar’s Tower of Flowers (Candlewick), on shelves this month. It’s the beautifully executed story of one very young boy’s successful acclimation to time away from his mother — and his gift to his immediate community.

In this wordless tale, Oscar has to say goodbye to a woman readers assume is his mother. It could easily be another sort of caretaker — an aunt, a cousin, an older sister. But the publisher’s description of the book is such that it calls out Oscar, his mother, and his Nana.

We aren’t privy to why Oscar’s mother has to leave, but we watch her drop off the boy with Nana. Tobia expertly paces their heavy goodbye in the panels of the book’s opening spread. We witness the tight, tender hug. Even the cat stares at the building’s elevator, as if to say, don’t leave. The boy, tears in his eyes, sucks his thumb in bed that night, sleeping next to a picture of the two of them together.

The next day, he and his Nana water a sagging plant, and this spawns an idea: The two of them leave the tall apartment building where they live and head to a gardening store. Nana picks up Oscar and holds him high in the store, pictured above, so that he can pick various packets of flower seeds. They plant countless flowers in pots, yogurt containers, mugs, teacups, and whatever else they can find. A tall, brilliantly colored sunflower even grows. Soon, the apartment is filled with flowers, vines, and plants. The two of them fill up the boy’s wagon and walk through the apartment building, ringing doorbells and distributing greenery. The opening and closing endpapers reveal the difference the boy makes in his neighbor’s surroundings. In the final spread, we see the boy’s mother return; he sits snugly in her lap, surrounded by green plants and blooming flowers, beaming at her. “The pain of parting,” says the book’s epigraph, quoting Charles Dickens, “is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”

There is a lot that Tobia does well here — the expressive body language, particularly the boy’s; the book’s measured pacing, which carries a great deal of the emotional subtext; the truly inclusive community of people that Oscar can now call his neighbors; the book’s appealing palette of various shades of green and vivid flower petals; the book’s carefully crafted compositions; and much, much more. It’s an emotionally resonant story that will speak, in particular, to any child who has had to temporarily say goodbye to a caretaker.

Here is another spread below. Find a copy, if you can, and share widely. This one is a keeper.


(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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OSCAR’S TOWER OF FLOWERS. Copyright © 2021 by Lauren Tobia. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

3 comments to “Oscar’s Tower of Flowers

  1. no comment

  2. Thank you for reviewing my book .

  3. My pleasure!

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