Wednesday, February 23, 2011

With Heart and Voice and Hands: These Hands by Margaret H. Mason

Look at these hands, Joseph.

Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat?

Well, I can still help a young fella learn to tie his shoes
--yes, I can.

A grandparent's hands have done many things over the years, but there is still work for them to do.

In Margaret Mason's forthcoming These Hands (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) a grandfather whose hands used to tickle the ivories can still teach a boy to play "Heart and Soul," and the hands that once threw a wicked curve ball can still teach him to hit a line drive.

But there was once something those hands could not do:

Look at these hands, Joseph.

Did you know these hands were not allowed to touch the bread
dough in the Wonder Bread factory?

Well, those hands joined with other hands.

And we carried our signs

And we raised our voices together.

Based on a true story related to author Margaret Mason, this story, ably interpreted in the understated but glowing sepia illustrations of Floyd Cooper, narrates one of the small victories in African American history. Unfortunately late for Black History Month this year, this one is well worth reading at any time. With simple but lyrical text and outstanding art worthy of any major award, it is as Kirkus Reviews says in their starred review: "This one stands tall not just for delving into a piece of labor history not previously covered, but for its ability to relate history with heart and resonance."

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