Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: Whose Hands are These? by Miranda Paul and Luciana Navarro Powell

Whose Hands Are These?

Interactive books for the win, this year. As I mentioned before, whenever I read a new picture book, whether fiction or nonfiction, its suitability for story time is always at the front of my mind. I have been very pleased with the number of books published recently that fit into that mold!

This one could fit in nicely with a story time about careers or community helpers. Rhyming text and pictures give easy to follow clues as to each person's job - farmer, potter, news reporter, etc. The answering line comes after you turn the page, which lends well to predicting and audience participation. Busy illustrations include a variety of skin colors and avoid gender stereotypes. At the end, children are asked what THEIR hands might do, and the illustration is of children in a classroom dressed as the adults in the preceding pages.

Unfortunately, there is one line that will probably prevent me from using this in a story time myself. In the spread covering police officers, the words star out positive ("These hands help us keep the peace"), but end with, "Hold yours up, it's the police!" we really want children to associate police with someone about to arrest them?? Especially in the aftermath of losing a local police officer, and with all the conflicts in the news, I don't think I will be presenting this one out loud. 

Of course, reader's prerogative - you could change the line to something like, "let's give a hand to...the police!" What other substitutions can you come up with?


  1. I like your suggested substitution and would have used that with my own kids. I have very strong feelings against depicting police officers as anything but helpful and heroes.

    1. I edited to add more commentary, because it won't leave my mind.

  2. It seems like this might read very differently across race lines. Many Americans can't afford to assume that their children can only see police as only "helpful and heroes", but need to teach them to see them as authorities who might be dangerous or make snap judgements about compliance.

    1. I see what you are saying, but which view do we want to emphasize? It seems to me that this is promoting the idea of the police automatically being out to get you, which is not beneficial to anyone.