Friday, August 21, 2015

Review: Estas manos: Manitas de mi familia/These Hands: My Family's Hands

Title: Estas manos: Manitas de mi familia/These Hands: My Family's Hands
Author: Samuel Caraballo
Illustrator: Shawn Costello
Publisher: Piñata Books
Pages: 32
Language: Bilingual - Spanish/English
Review Copy: Final copy from publisher
Availability: On shelves now

Summary via publisher's website: In this heart-warming ode to family, the young narrator compares the hands of family members to plants in the natural world. “Your hands, the most tender hands! / When I’m scared, / They soothe me,” she says to her mother. The girl compares her mother’s hands to rose petals, which represent tenderness in Latin America.

Her father’s hands are strong like the mahogany tree; her siblings’ friendly like the blooming oak tree. Grandma Inés’ are the happiest hands, like tulips that tickle and hug tightly. And Grandpa Juan’s are the wisest, like the ceiba tree, considered by many indigenous peoples of Latin America to be the tree of life and wisdom and the center of the universe. His are the hands that teach his granddaughter how to plant and care for the earth and how to play the conga drum.

She promises to give back all the love they have always given her, “Dad, when your feet get tired, / My hands will not let you fall.” Samuel Caraballo’s poetic text is combined with Shawn Costello’s striking illustrations depicting loving relationships between family members. An author’s note about Latin American symbols will introduce children both to the natural world and the idea that one thing can represent another.

Review: This a beautiful tribute to the love between family members. A young girl speaks of how the hands of her family members provide many things for her. She then shares the ways she will reciprocate with her own hands when she is older. The narrator compares hands to plants and flowers. I appreciated the author's note explaining the symbolism and it's roots in Latin America. It would be interesting to read this book in school with older readers and follow up by researching the many ways that people have used the "language of flowers" over time. There are many places online that explain various meanings assigned to different flowers. Students could then write about the hands of their own family members.

The illustrations are gorgeous and show the loving hands and the ways they nurture and care for each other. The paintings are vibrant and radiate peace, joy and love. They also enhance the quiet reflective atmosphere of the text.

My only quibble is that the pages with text seem to be more rigid than the full page illustrations. The pages with text break the mood a bit even with the small square painting in between the Spanish and English text. It is a little boxy when compared to the flowing and relaxed pictures.

Still, the text and illustrations together create a reading experience that celebrates family love. It brought me into a peaceful and contemplative space. It would be a lovely story for bedtime.

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