Hold Hands, by Sara Varon, (June 2019, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781596435889
It’s a day in the life of a preschooler in this adorable graphic novel by award-winning graphic novelist Sara Varon. Her adorable animal characters all hold hands: camels hold hands with giraffes, the sun and the moon share a hand-to-hand clasp as they pass in the sky, cats and dogs walk hand-in-hand, even the title page of the book sports colorful letters with sweet, smiling faces, holding onto one another. The whole day is seen as a series of hand-holding moments: a little bear holds hands with his mother, father, and brother during morning routines and on the way to daycare; holds hands with teachers and friends during the school day; during playdates; on the way home, and during bedtime stories and nighttime routines. The rhyming text is short and sweet, assuring readers that every time is a good time to hold hands: “Hold hands when the day is new, when you need a pal, or when one needs you”; “Hold hands with your buddy when you’re on the go, especially if your teacher tells you so”. The illustrations are colorful, boldly outlined, and loaded with sweet details, like a father wearing bunny slippers, or a heart charm hanging off a mom’s rear view mirror. Sara Varon emphasizes the power of connection by creating little starbursts around each hand-holding relationship.
Hold Hands is perfect for kids in daycare and preschool, and it’s an adorable testament to the power of physical contact. A must-have.
Recommended for ages 2-5
My Two Hands/My Two Feet is two stories in one, each story celebrating the many things that hands and feet can do over the course of a day. On one side, we have hands: stretching, washing, making a cup for water, holding onto someone, and folding together at bedtime. Flip the book over and discover what feet can do: wiggle, dance, stomp, twirl, and lie still at bedtime. The stories meet in the middle, with the two narrators asleep side by side. The endpapers clue readers in as to which body parts they will read about first, with overlapping hands decorating one side and overlapping feet, the other. The stories are told in rhyme and illustrated in airbrushed acrylics, with bright colors and full-bleed images on each page. The illustrations are flat, and the characters are semi-realistic looking, with large heads and small, black shiny dots for eyes. The only texture in the images comes by way of the characters’ knitted sweaters, which appear to be collage.
The story, told in rhyme, uses simple language that younger readers will understand and enjoy. The font is a simple yet decorative font, alternating in black and white to stand out on the brightly colored backgrounds.
This is a great opportunity for an interactive read-aloud. Children can be invited to pantomime the movements mentioned in the book, like wiggling their toes and stretching their hands. This would also allow for a fun, movement-based storytime: get the children up and dancing, play Ring Around the Rosie, maybe even a game of Simon Says. Younger attendees can play “Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes”.
The author’s website links to information about Mr. Walton, including school visits and a biography; he also links to free book resources online for parents, writers, and educators.