Joseph's grandpa could do almost anything with his hands. He could play the piano, throw a curveball, and tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat. But in the 1950s and 60s, he could not bake bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Factory bosses said white people would not want to eat bread touched by the hands of the African Americans who worked there.In this powerful intergenerational story, Joseph learns that people joined their hands together to fight discrimination so that one day, their hands--Joseph's hands--could do anything at all in this whole wide world .
"Look at these hands, Joseph. / Did you know these hands / used to . . . Starting from the refrain, a man on each double-page spread tells a smiling boy how to tie his shoes, play the piano, hit a line drive, and more. Cooper's signature style of softly blurred illustrations in sepia shades shows the bonds in a loving family. There is an abrupt break in the verse as the man remembers, Did you know these hands / were not allowed to touch / the bread dough / in the Wonder Bread factory? The bosses said that white people did not want to eat bread touched by black hands, so blacks were only allowed to sweep the floor, work the line, and load the trucks. Then the story's tone shifts again, and stirring pictures celebrate the historic civil rights and union protests that brought attention to the issue, and a long author's note offers more context. The story's roots in rarely told history will widen the audience of this moving title to older readers, too.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"An African-American man addresses his grandson in Mason's (Inside All) gently told story, repeatedly bidding him to "Look at these hands, Joseph." Gracefully segueing between present and past, the grandfather mentions feats he once performed ("Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat?") and what his hands accomplish now ("Well, I can still help a young fellow learn to tie his shoes-yes, I can"). Working in oil wash with kneaded eraser to create gauzy paintings in a sepia-heavy palette, Cooper (A Beach Tail) shows the man helping his grandson play the piano and perfect his baseball swing. Narrative and art then flash back to a time when "these hands" were not allowed to mix dough in the Wonder Bread factory, but instead swept floors and loaded trucks. Yet that changed after many hands joined together to sign petitions and carry protest signs, and now "any hands can mix the bread dough, no matter their color." An author's note provides historical context. It's a moving study of multigenerational relationships and triumph over discrimination. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved