cover image Sister Anne's Hands

Sister Anne's Hands

Marybeth Lorbiecki. Dial Books, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2038-1

An African American nun challenges the beliefs of her second-grade students in this thought-provoking picture book set in the 1960s. When Sister Anne joins the faculty at the local Catholic school, Anna overhears her father whisper, ""I don't know how a woman of her color is going to survive,"" and Anna wonders what she'll be like. On the first day of class, Sister Anne demonstrates her fun and unusual approaches to counting and storytelling. But the good times are brought to a halt when a note about Sister Anne's skin color lands on her desk. The teacher tells the class that she needs ""some quiet time to think about this,"" and next day she finds a way to educate the children about racism. Lorbiecki (Just One Flick of a Finger) brings ever-relevant social issues into sharp focus through Anna's heartfelt, intimate narration. While the '60s setting is evident in Popp's (Princess Florecita and the Iron Shoes) historically accurate, gauzy pastels, the text's subtle tone and universal message are far-reaching and accessible to contemporary readers. And the warm, softly lit portraits of students at rapt attention as they listen to the serene Sister Anne add to this book's considerable emotional appeal. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)