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THESE HANDS by Margaret H. Mason Kirkus Star

THESE HANDS

By Margaret H. Mason (Author) , Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-21566-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

With tenderness and pride, a grandfather shares the many skills of his hands with his grandson, who is a happy student. Those hands can tie knots, play the piano, perform card tricks and swing a baseball bat. The text is beautifully cadenced. “Well, I can still teach a young fellow / how to do a waterfall shuffle / —yes I can.” But then comes the mood-shattering remembrance. Those hands, not so very long ago, could not touch the dough in the Wonder Bread factory. Those hands did not stay still: They joined in protest with many other hands and voices and achieved equality. The little boy learns all his lessons well, with a tasty loaf of bread as his crowning achievement. The author has based her story on conversations with an African-American bakery union activist, according to her author’s note. Cooper’s signature artwork in muted shades of yellows and browns intensifies the warmth of the intergenerational bonding. The faces are particularly expressive. For all the many titles that appear on segregation and protest for younger readers, this one stands tall not just for delving into a piece of labor history not previously covered, but for its ability to relate history with heart and resonance. (Picture book. 4-8)