Today is Father’s Day, a day where fathers and father figures are celebrated and appreciated for all their hard work. These Hands, written by Maragaret H. Mason, is about a grandfather teaching his grandson Joseph all that he can do with his hands. Then, he explains to his grandson that even though hands can do so many things, people did not allow Black people to work in the Wonderbread factory because white people would not want to eat bread touched by Black hands.
The author said this book was inspired by her late friend Joe Barnett. He was a leader of a bakery labor union, and he joined together with other workers to fight for fair job treatment.
He said that Black people during the 1950s and 1960s were allowed to sweep floors, load trucks, and fix machines, but they couldn’t work as bread dough mixers or bread dough handlers.
The book started off from the grandfather’s point of view, and he was telling Joseph stories from his past and what he did with his hands. At the end of the book, Joseph takes over the story and tells his grandfather how he can now do many things with his little hands. I liked how the perspective shifted from the grandfather to Joseph, like how eras shift as time goes on.
I loved the illustrations by Floyd Cooper! They really made the words come to life. What’s cool is that the illustrator also wrote and illustrated a book called Juneteenth for Mazie. It happens to be Juneteenth today!
I recommend this book to readers ages 6 to 10. There is an author’s note at the end of the book that explains more about “unwritten rules” for Black people in the workplace in the during segregation.
Four out of four roses!