This picture book offers a different take on a black body raising “hands up.”
Vibrant, colorfully textured illustrations show different displays of black children raising hands, such as playing peekaboo, getting dressed, and other mundane activities. The book follows one little girl as she puts her hands up to do chores, to reach for books on a high shelf at the library, and even to assume the fifth position in ballet class. She holds up her bun as her grandmother does her hair, throws her arms up “in praise and worship,” and hoists a trophy after a victorious basketball game. Riding her bike with her hands up results in a fall, but there is a caring adult there to pick her back up. McDaniel sends a positive and affirming message that normalizes for black children the gesture of raising their hands, redeeming it from the very negative, haunting images of black people raising their hands while being confronted by police. The book closes with a bold illustration of children of all colors raising their hands and holding signs such as “Water = Life,” “Spread Love,” and “Black Lives Matter.” Evans employs a pastel palette that amplifies McDaniel’s sunny message. Outlines are done in purple, blue, brown—there are no literally black marks in this book.
A warm and necessary message of empowerment for black children, helping them see that raising their hands is a celebration of their humanity. (Picture book. 4-8)