A book celebrates the many things our hands allow us to do.
From expressing emotion and measuring things to grabbing items and pressing buttons, our hands are both useful and creative. Kim divides the book into two sections focusing on work and expression, and each double-page spread includes vignettes that look at some way our hands are helpful to us. “Playing” states that “even without toys you can have fun playing with just your hands.” Shadow and hand puppets, thumb wrestling, and cat’s cradle are all illustrated. “Creating” shows people painting, sculpting, playing a violin (bowing with the left hand), and conducting. Throughout, text boxes define terms, provide further information, offer activities, or emphasize tips: hands can hurt, be gentle; one’s body is one’s own. There is not much included here that readers will find new, and there are many missed opportunities: there is no mention of sign language, the term “opposable thumbs” is not explained beyond the label on a diagram, nothing is said of the uniqueness of fingerprints, and there is no mention made of people who may not have two hands and 10 fingers. All the people (and hands) in the illustrations are light-skinned, and readers may be distracted by the perfectly round heads, toothy smiles, and stylized, elongated, and skinny arms on the characters.
Stick with the classic “Where Is Thumbkin” song instead. (Picture book. 3-6)