Review: My Hands Make the World

My Hands Make the World

written and illustrated by Amalia Hoffman

PJ Publishing, 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Dena Bach

There are many, many books that depict the creation story that begins the Torah, the first chapter of Bereshit, the Book of Genesis. Yet the approach of this board book is a novel one. Board books often use simple drawings to explain simple concepts, yet this book aims to do more. The deceptively simple narrative and artwork here tell more than just the story of Genesis, they tell about creation and about creating, reaching children at their level, in a child-friendly and inspiring way.

As Hoffman explains in the endnotes, everyone, including children, are created “B’tzelem Elokim” in the divine image. Therefore everyone, including children, are participants in the act of creation. The medium of colorful finger painting, a common way that a young child begins to delve into art and storytelling, is an excellent choice. On every page a child’s handprint is an integral part of the art, literally putting the creation of the world in the child’s hands. By using this common, accessible medium for illustration, Hoffman empowers every child reader, telling them that they themselves can create, make art, tell stories.

My Hands Make the World is appropriate for the target age, and fulfills the criteria for the Sydney Taylor Book Award with positive Jewish content in its interpretation of the opening chapter of the Torah. A fine teaching tool for even the youngest child, the narrative calls out to the adult reader to enhance the reading by taking out the finger paints and paper, urging their charges create their own worlds.

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Reviewer Dena Bach has a BA in Fine Arts from Brandeis University, a BFA in Illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MA/MFA in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children from Simmons University. She has worked as an illustrator, a bookkeeper, a bookseller, and a teacher of children from ages 2 to14. She is comfortable only when there is a large mountain of children’s books on her bedside table.