Many Hands, created by author and photographer MAI, is a creative and interactive celebration of family and the power of community. Brought to life with color photographs of multi-generational hands in both tender and active moments, it invites readers of all ages to consider the many ways we give and receive support. The book also includes blank pages for readers to celebrate their own community by inserting photos or drawings that tell their unique story.
The power of this book lies in its gentle and engaging simplicity. The text is poetic and perfectly tuned to an emotional rhythm even the youngest of readers will respond to: “Loving hands/ Family hands/ Talking hands/ Holding hands /Digging hands/ Giving hands…”
Each line of poetry is given a full page and illustrated with an image of hands – a newborn’s and her mother’s; three generations of hands together at a family celebration; tweens doing playful sign language; dirt-covered hands planting; a hand holding a daisy while the other rests on a much-loved shoulder and more. Like the text, the photography is simple, without fussy Instagram-era embellishments or filters; as a result it feels direct and intimate (although the level of sharpness and art of composition could be improved in many).
As the poem progresses, the photos shift from sets of twos and threes, or hands working or praying alone, and the camera’s gaze is directed out into the community and onto images of multiple hands together — but a deep sense of companionship and intimacy remains. “Imagine what great things working together [sic] hands can do,” it asks.
This moving picture book ends with an invitation to readers and their families to contemplate their world and community. MAI asks readers to make the book their own by inserting personal photographs and thoughts – and in the process of doing this, a reader symbolically joins hands with the larger community MAI is celebrating.
Also available as an ebook.