Varon (New Shoes) celebrates the simple gesture of holding hands with a cast of wide-eyed animals whose four-fingered paws are just right for clasping. The furry young protagonist holds hands with its mother while gazing at the morning sky (“Hold hands/ when the day is new”), then with a stuffed monkey; a diapered, binky-sucking sibling; and with a parent on the way to daycare. Throughout the story are subtle nudges toward good citizenship and being part of a community. Animals ride public transit, play with companions of all species and sizes, and follow reasonable guidelines (“Hold hands with your buddy when you’re on the go,/ especially if your teacher tells you so”). Yet the animals’ sweetly vulnerable appearance keeps the book from skewing too earnest. White action lines highlight the hand-holding going on in every spread—in Varon’s world, even the sun and the moon hold hands. Seemingly effortless verse (“Hold hands before pancakes/ and during cheese./ Hold hands to steady your trembling knees”) makes this the kind of readaloud that could find a place among favorites. Ages 3–6. (June)
"Varon's singular visual stylebright, friendly, and completely zanyand her deft, economical writing style make this simple ode to holding hands burst with originality and charm." New York Times
"In Varon’s world, even the sun and the moon hold hands. Seemingly effortless verse...makes this the kind of readaloud that could find a place among favorites." Publisher's Weekly
"With gentle guidance, young readers will pick up on the broader message that hand-holding...embodies strong emotional connection, bonding, and inclusion. [This] concept is well-depicted in the colorful, cartoony illustrations of the smiling, bearlike protagonists and their fellow community members, who represent various animal species, colors, sizes, and shapes."Kirkus
"This is sure to be a day-care winner, and even youngsters petulantly asserting their independence may be reminded that it’s really quite nice to hold somebody’s hand."The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Various animal (and other) characters, rendered in Varon’s singular offbeat style, show readers how hand-holding can provide comfort." Horn Book
"This warmhearted book will hold up over many readings, and is a must purchase for libraries serving younger patrons." School Library Journal
"Award-winning graphic novelist and picture-book artist Varon uses her trademark stylings and anthropomorphic animals to create a gorgeous and precious picture book about a simple but crucial element of learned childhood behavior." Booklist
PreS-K—Graphic novelist Varon's (Robot Dreams, Sweater Weather) return to picture books (Chicken & Cat) is a comforting look at how holding hands is representative of the ways we connect with others to help us through our days. As the day starts, readers see a young bear holding hands with a younger sibling, an older sibling, and at times a stuffed animal as the bear offers support or receives the comfort or encouragement that she needs. As the day moves forward, the bear holds hands while going down a flight of stairs, commuting to preschool, on her way to a playdate, listening to a bedtime story, and in her dreams. Varon's distinct comic style of bold lines creates a world of diverse animal characters, and her comforting complementary muted color palette will appeal to child readers. Every pair of hands being held, whether in the background or forefront, is highlighted by a star, and the sun and moon are shown holding hands as they change places in the sky. Soothing rhymes makes this a great lap book that shows readers a myriad of ways that they can offer comfort and support to others and themselves. VERDICT This warmhearted book will hold up over many readings, and is a must purchase for libraries serving younger patrons.—Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR
I wanna hold your hand: It's easy, rewarding, and comforting.
Do it with younger siblings or parents…even a favorite stuffed toy. Hold hands when it makes good, practical, safety sense, as when you're navigating a high, precarious staircase; crossing the street; standing on a bus because you don't have a seat; or getting into the family car. Holding hands is great when you're about to say goodbye to a parent or buddy; going off to school or to a friend's house; and pairing up with a classmate, especially at a teacher's direction. Have you held hands with a tree at the playground? Even the sun and moon do it! You know when it's really great? When your mom kisses you. With gentle guidance, young readers will pick up on the broader message that hand-holding represents more than just tactile pleasure; it also embodies strong emotional connection, bonding, and inclusion. The latter concept is well-depicted in the colorful, cartoony illustrations of the smiling, bearlike protagonists and their fellow community members, who represent various animal species, colors, sizes, and shapes. In laptime, library, and classroom read-aloud sessions, encourage listeners to suggest other hand-holding scenarios. Additionally, all kids should be invited to hold hands while listening—and, crucially, given space not to if they don't want, a principle that is missing from this book.
Engaging and reassuring. (Picture book. 3-6)