Friday, March 18, 2016

Whose Hands are These? and Author Interview!

Winner! Keila wins the give-away for Shmulik Paints the Town. Congratulations! And now to the book of the day...

Whose Hands Are These?
By Miranda Paul; illus. by Luciana Navarro Powell
32 pages; ages 4-9
Milbrook Press, 2016

Theme: community helpers, growing up

Opening: Hands can wiggle, hands can clap.

Hands can wrap and flap and tap.

But hands can help, too. What can they do? Turn the page to find out! This book shows how people living in your community use their hands to help each other.  Some people use their hands to raise vegetables while others use their hands to slice and dice those veggies. Some create art while others fix engines.

What I like: Not only does Miranda introduce youngsters to a diversity of jobs, but she does it with rhythm, rhyme, and panache. This book is just plain fun to read out loud. What’s even more fun: every page is a riddle. Can you guess the answer before you turn the page?

Beyond the Book: There are so many ways to help other people. What will your hands do.... help around your house? Can you wash vegetables or sweep a floor? Sort silverware? Fold socks? Do something to help the people you live with.

... to help the earth? Could you turn out the lights when you leave a room, or ride your bike instead of asking for a ride? Here are some things kids are doing to help the planet. 

... to help other people?  Maybe you can wash a neighbor's car or mow their lawn. Maybe you can make sandwiches for homeless people or help another kid at school with homework. Think of something you can do, and make a plan.

Miranda Paul helped me by answering Three Questions!

Sally: What inspired this book?

Miranda: I got the idea because I'd been talking a lot at the time about all the different jobs I'd done (note: Miranda has worked in a zoo, at a store, as a teacher, and now a writer). Originally I called the manuscript "Helping Hands". My husband is one of those people who can fix just about anything, and I think it's amazing what hands can do. 

Sally: How did you decide whose hands to include in the story?

Miranda: They had to be ones that I could rhyme with! I wrote a few extras that didn't make it into the book (and I'll be sharing those top-secret ones with schools that I visit!).

Sally: I love that you have more information at the back of the book. Talk about why you included "back matter".

Miranda: I love back matter—because the book doesn't end so fast! I also love back matter because I'm a lifelong learner. I included back matter in Whose Hands Are These? for a number of reasons.
  •  The publisher, Millbrook Press (Lerner), sells heavily to school and library markets. I consider the book a tool for teachers and librarians and wanted to make it the best tool it could be for a unit on community helpers.
  •  Since each occupation gets only one spread of spot illustrations (hands) and a half-spread in a single setting, it was important to explain the diversity and range within each job. An example is farmers—who are depicted on a small family farm in the illustration, but many farms today are large-scale and work with heavy machinery and I wanted to speak to that. In fact, as the back matter points out, "There are more than 200 farm-related careers, including fishing, selling, or delivering farm products, and managing parks and forests."
  •  When I tell kids some of the steps to becoming a writer, they're fascinated. And yet, many jobs have even more interesting pathways! I tried to include some of the steps or education needed to become each kind of community helper. I even learned through the process that many referees have to pass a test on the rules of their game before they can work at a professional level.
  •  In the author's note, I share a thought with kids that it's OK if they don't know what they want to be, and that it's all right to be more than one thing. There's no need for them to have anxiety about not knowing what they want to do, or switching their mind. People can be community helpers in more than one way.

You can find out more about Miranda at her website, where she has a trailer for Whose Hands Are These? Last summer I reviewed her book Water is Water. You can read that review here.

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday) over at  Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. On Monday we'll join the folks over at Nonfiction Monday. Review copy from the author.


  1. Looks like a good one :) I've added it to my tbr list!

  2. I've been meaning to go and check out Miranda's new PB! So glad to get some info here Sue--it sounds so fun, sure to draw kids in with the bouncy rhymes and guessing game aspect. And I'm happy to learn there is extensive back matter. Terrific!

  3. I love this book and am lucky enough to have a signed copy of my very own! Miranda's book is beautifully illustrated, her rhymes are spot on, and I love the variety of "jobs" she's chosen. But what I really love is how the emphasis is placed on working together in a community, a wonderful message about the larger picture in which we place work. It's something we contribute to our community however large or small that community may be.

  4. Oh, I can't wait to read Miranda's book. Hands conjure such powerful images. Enjoyed your short interview.

  5. There is so much to love about this book: the diversity, the language, the reader involvement, the jobs explored… It is a real winner.

  6. Such a beautiful looking book and perfect for a kindergarten class!

  7. Can't wait to get these hands on it!

  8. Love all of Miranda's books. Nice interview. The back matter she includes in them are wonderful.