Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mini PB Review: Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Shane W. Williams

Morning comes and young Viv stretches her hands up high to greet the sun, and she continues to put her hands throughout the day. First, getting dressed, then reaching the water running in the sink to wipe up a spill, and later holding her hair up while grandma combs it and puts it in a bun, still later, Viv reaches high in school hoping to be called on by her teacher Ms. B.

In the library, Viv reaches up for a book on a high shelf, and gracefully raises her arms like Misty Copeland in ballet class. At church, hands are raised high in praise and worship, including Viv's. On the basketball court, her hands shoot up to make a basket, and to hold her winning trophy up high for all to see.

And finally, Viv, her family and neighbors hold their hands up high so the world can see the signs they carry, signs of positivity and change, including Black Lives Matter.

Every day, countless times, Viv puts her hands up for different reasons, but it is always done in a positive way, of winning, of succeeding, even of speaking out.

Sadly, for most of us, the expression "hands up" has always been a sign of surrender. Then, in 2014, it became a sign and rallying cry of protest over police violence towards unarmed black men after the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Missouri. In her Notes from the Author, Breanna McDaniel writes that she worries that "this world casts black kids as victims, villains, or simply adults before they're grown up." Hands Up! is her gift to these children, in which she has taken that gesture and turned it into a positive, so that Hands Up! is a book that exudes love, joy, and triumph, a celebration of those everyday moments when young kids, particularly young kids of color, are just kids using this gesture in the best possible way.

Shane Williams' engaging mixed media digitally created illustrations reflect to the story line perfectly, adding emotion and complimenting McDaniel's spare text.

Hands Up! is a triumphant, empowering book that should be shared at home, in school, perhaps even in Sunday School.

This book is recommended for all readers
This book was purchased for my personal library

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