In Your Hands - Hardcover

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A black mother expresses the many hopes and dreams she has for her child in this powerful picture book masterpiece that’s perfect for gift-giving.

When you are a newborn,
I hold your hand and study your face.
I cradle you as you drift to sleep.
But I know that I will not always
hold your hand;
not the older you get.
Then, I will hold you in my heart
And hope that God holds you in his hands.

From School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3—From award-winning Weatherford (Voice of Freedom; Moses), this poem from a black mother to her firstborn son will resonate as a prayer for all black boys. A mother holds her child's hand while expressing her hopes for his safety, his confidence, and a world that will see him as a "vessel to be steered rather than a figure to be feared." The narrative moves through the child's life and the struggle most parents go through when they realize that they can no longer hold their children close and protect them, but acknowledges that extra worry that parents of black boys face as the mother asks God to hold her son in his hands. The book ends with the mother adding her prayer to the chorus: "Black lives matter. Your life matters." The text is given the space to shine opposite Pinkney's art, with font size changes for impact. The illustrations, loose and fluid pastel watercolors with India ink outlines, offer a sense of warmth and comfort with swirls around the images projecting the mother's love. Hands are integral to each picture, with larger hands at times representing God embracing the young boy. A final image shows God's hands enveloping a world where everyone holds hands as the mother ends, "Hold my son in your hands." VERDICT An exceptional gift to black families, and with its important underlying messages of our times, this title should be added to most library collections. Best shared one-on-one with a loved one.—Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR


* “The moving, poetic text . . . offers both love and reassurance for children and a way to explore some difficult social issues. Pinkney’s striking, loose illustrations in watercolor and gouache use a palette of pastel greens and blues. . . .  Insightful, poignant, groundbreaking—and a reminder that the lives of all children are also in our hands.” (Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEWJune 15, 2017)

* “An exceptional gift to black families, with important underlying messages of our times. . . . Best shared one-on-one with a loved one.” (School Library Journal, Starred ReviewJuly 2017)

* “Pinkney uses sweeping, expressive ink lines and radiant washes of color to create both an impressionistic mood and poignant immediacy. For all its beauty and lyricism, Weatherford’s book doesn’t equivocate. Because for children like Omari, the stakes are as high as their mothers’ love is deep.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review July 17, 2017)

* “A heartfelt monologue . . . [with] luminous artwork . . . this picture book will move many readers, including adults, with its lyrical yet powerful words and art.” (Booklist, Starred Review August 1, 2017)

“The pictures of a young black boy growing to adolescence and adulthood and the power of the mother’s prayer . . . make it one that may well transcend early readings to become a book to return to as a child becomes a man.” (The Horn Book September/October 2017)

About the Author

Carole Boston Weatherford has written many award-winning books for children, including Caldecott Honor winners  Freedom in Congo SquareVoice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Her recent books include By and By, How Sweet the SoundIn Your HandsThe Legendary Miss Lena HorneYou Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, and  How Sweet the Sound. Carole lives in North Carolina. Visit her at

Brian Pinkney has illustrated numerous acclaimed books for children, includingMartin RisingIn Your Hands; On the Ball; The Faithful Friend; Duke Ellington; and In the Time of the Drums. His many awards include two Caldecott Honors, a Coretta Scott King Illustration Award, four Coretta Scott King Illustration Honors, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. Brian lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and frequent collaborator, Andrea Davis Pinkney. Visit him at

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