cover image My Father's Hands

My Father's Hands

Joanne Ryder. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09189-7

In this loving tribute, a girl watches her father as he tends a garden--as well as its wiggling, sliding, bumbling and graceful creatures. He opens his cupped, earth-encrusted hands to reveal a ``pink circle of worm,'' a beetle ``shining in gold armor'' and a praying mantis ``so light, so bold, so strange.'' The father wordlessly conveys his enthusiasm to his daughter, who narrates: ``I bend closer, knowing that nothing within my father's hands will harm me.'' The crisp clarity of Ryder's ( One Small Fish ) prose balances her warm effusion (as the mantis is returned to his bush, father and daughter ``watch him / till he melts / green in the greenness''). Graham's ( Where's the Baby? ) oil paintings, scumbled beneath a dewy veil of early summer light, perfectly match the intimacy of Ryder's text. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)