cover image These Hands

These Hands

Margaret H. Mason, illus. by Floyd Cooper, Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-21566-2

An African-American man addresses his grandson in Mason's (Inside All) gently told story, repeatedly bidding him to "Look at these hands, Joseph." Gracefully segueing between present and past, the grandfather mentions feats he once performed ("Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat?") and what his hands accomplish now ("Well, I can still help a young fellow learn to tie his shoes—yes, I can"). Working in oil wash with kneaded eraser to create gauzy paintings in a sepia-heavy palette, Cooper (A Beach Tail) shows the man helping his grandson play the piano and perfect his baseball swing. Narrative and art then flash back to a time when "these hands" were not allowed to mix dough in the Wonder Bread factory, but instead swept floors and loaded trucks. Yet that changed after many hands joined together to sign petitions and carry protest signs, and now "any hands can mix the bread dough, no matter their color." An author's note provides historical context. It's a moving study of multigenerational relationships and triumph over discrimination. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)