A parent-child relationship evolves as time passes.
From the title-page illustration of a peach-skinned, pregnant mother, hands spread across her belly, to the same mother, silver-haired, holding her grown son’s hand, the titular “loving hands” anchor the story of parenthood and its moments both sweet and bittersweet. Johnston’s text has some lovely, poetic lines: “His mother’s hair turns white as salt. / Her memories slip like sand, / except for one, dearest of all— / the memory of her Lamb.” While most of the stanzas either rhyme or include a loose rhyme, some awkwardly seem not to at all, thus breaking up the otherwise sweet lullaby lilt. It’s really Bates’ illustrations—done in watercolor, gouache, and pencil—that stand out, gently and warmly showing the intimate moments of parenting. Each of the book’s four stunning two-page spreads features tone and shadows echoed in color across all four. The remaining scenes include text pages with a darling, small illustration featuring the mother and/or son’s hands that echoes a woodcut design—a nice, delicate touch. Ultimately, this is a beautiful picture book sure to resonate with any adult who has ever loved a child. Meanwhile, kids will relate to the childhood hallmarks represented throughout.
The gorgeous watercolor illustrations of this sweet picture book help secure it a place in the hearts of adults who read it. (Picture book. 4-8)