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These Hands

by Margaret H. Mason
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Published by Houghton Mifflin, 2011
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-547-21566-2

Ages 5-9

An African American grandfather tells his grandson about his own accomplishments and struggles while teaching the boy new things in an engaging picture book that gracefully traverses personal and social history. “Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat?” asks the grandfather as he teaches young Joseph how to tie his shoes. “These hands” could also play piano, “pluck an ace of spades out of thin air,” and throw a fast curveball. But “these hands were not allowed to mix the bread dough at the Wonder Bread factory,” until they joined with other hands and voices in a movement for change. Margaret H. Mason’s story comes full circle as Joseph tells his grandfather all the things his own hands can now do. “Anything at all,” his grandfather affirms. Mason’s warm, lively narrative is set against Floyd Cooper’s sepia-toned illustrations, which show the passage of several years in Joseph’s life as well as an earlier era of social change. An author’s note provides more information on Black workers in bakeries in the 1950s and early 1960s. Highly Commended, 2012 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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