My Hands Make the World

  • Review
By – July 19, 2022

This brief but elo­quent book for young chil­dren traces the link between the cre­ation of the world and a child’s feel­ings about her own artis­tic pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. The read­er fol­lows two small hand­prints dipped in paint as they bring new forms of life into being, just as God did in the book of Genesis.

Most chil­dren have brought home sim­i­lar hand­prints from school projects. Here, they are more spon­ta­neous, direct­ed by the young artist her­self. The book begins with an explo­sion of col­or, and goes on to black and white prints for dark­ness and light, blue for the sky and water, and green and pas­tels for trees and flow­ers. On the sixth day of cre­ation, play­ful ani­mals join the brand-new world, and human beings appear. Since the child’s per­spec­tive is at the cen­ter, these peo­ple are not Adam and Eve, but children.

The sim­plic­i­ty of the book is appeal­ing, and it offers a dif­fer­ent entry point for children’s under­stand­ing of how the world came to be. Instead of main­tain­ing a lit­er­al inter­pre­ta­tion of the bib­li­cal account, Hoff­man approach­es the sub­ject of the world’s birth as an ana­logue to how children’s untu­tored cre­ativ­i­ty cel­e­brates the world as it is: beau­ti­ful, col­or­ful, pop­u­lat­ed by ani­mals and plant life and the peo­ple we love. Even the youngest read­er can become involved in the act of cre­at­ing a world, chang­ing the idea from an abstrac­tion to a lit­er­al­ly hands-on activ­i­ty. Each serves as both an indi­vid­ual artist and a col­lec­tive par­tic­i­pant in creation.

Emi­ly Schnei­der writes about lit­er­a­ture, fem­i­nism, and cul­ture for TabletThe For­wardThe Horn Book, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions, and writes about chil­dren’s books on her blog. She has a Ph.D. in Romance Lan­guages and Literatures.

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