cover image The Handiest Things in the World

The Handiest Things in the World

Andrew Clements, , photos by Raquel Jaramillo. . S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-6166-6

The title and artfully composed cover photo of a butterfly perched on a child’s cupped hand offer clues to what lies within this warmhearted and deceptively simple book. Clements (Dogku ) and Jaramillo pay tribute to what hands are useful for—and to some, well, handy devices they’ve inspired. Crisp, close-range digital photographs of cheerful children portray what the solid, rhyming verse suggests. A picture of a child with a berry-stained shirt using fingers to pick up fruit is opposite one of a spotless child eating with chopsticks (“Mealtime happens every day./ Keep your fingers clean this way”). Similarly, a calculator replaces counting by hand, a comb works better than fingers, and a hand mixer makes for a less messy kitchen. The various items—a leash, watering can, and broom also show up—are never identified in the text, offering opportunities for kids to supply the names. A final image of two people holding hands reinforces the fact that, no matter what new technologies are created, these appendages remain indispensable: “For sharing love with tenderness... the hand itself is handiest.” Ages 4–8. (May)