"Greet the sun, bold and bright! Tiny hands up!" In star-studded sleeves, two raised brown arms exuberantly face the golden, warming rays, ready to start a new day filled with discovery, growth and, of course, much fun. Mommy and Daddy join the radiant welcome, their hands up to play peek-a-boo. As the morning progresses, the girl's hands (and arms) go up to get dressed, then to reach for orange juice, the kitchen faucet, her piled-high hair. At school, hands go up for her turn, to grab a high-shelf library book. In ballet class, hands go up in fifth position and up again later for no-hands biking antics. Her hands go up to accept help, to "praise and worship," to assist her team in winning the basketball trophy. Finally, her hands are among the many raised high to hold protest signs, working together toward a better world.
Author/children's literature scholar Breanna J. McDaniel’s picture book debut creates exuberant elation from a phrase too long associated with "anger, sadness, frustration, and fear." Inspired by her niece, McDaniel worries "that this world is not a place where [she] can show her joy, her intelligence and the strength of her will without being seen as a social problem, all because she's black and a girl." Hands Up! is McDaniel's fundamental message that "black kids are just that--kids"--and all children "deserve to thrive." Author/illustrator Shane W. Evans (with 30-plus titles) brings McDaniel's humanizing expectations to every vibrant, textured page: "I realized every line and color was an important mark toward raising the hands of people throughout the world." He adds, "I stopped being afraid of raising my hands up, and stretching them high felt right." Sobering and celebratory both, writer and artist triumphantly assure all audiences, especially young black readers, "You matter." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon