Children's -- Sister Anne's Hands
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Title: Sister Anne's Hands
Author: Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by K. Wendy Popp
Date Published: Nov. 2000
Price: Paperback 4.50, Library Binding 15.30, Hardcove 16.99
Comments: Lovely story sure to be checked out for years, and often
From Publishers Weekly
An African American nun challenges the beliefs of her second-grade students
in this thought-provoking picture book set in the 1960s. When Sister Anne joins
the faculty at the local Catholic school, Anna overhears her father whisper,
"I don't know how a woman of her color is going to survive," and Anna wonders
what she'll be like. On the first day of class, Sister Anne demonstrates her
fun and unusual approaches to counting and storytelling. But the good times are
brought to a halt when a note about Sister Anne's skin color lands on her
desk. The teacher tells the class that she needs "some quiet time to think about
this," and next day she finds a way to educate the children about racism.
Lorbiecki (Just One Flick of a Finger) brings ever-relevant social issues into
sharp focus through Anna's heartfelt, intimate narration. While the '60s setting
is evident in Popp's (Princess Florecita and the Iron Shoes) historically
accurate, gauzy pastels, the text's subtle tone and universal message are
far-reaching and accessible to contemporary readers. And the warm, softly lit
portraits of students at rapt attention as they listen to the serene Sister Anne add
to this book's considerable emotional appeal. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-A gifted and unique African-American teacher is just a little too
unique for some of the students and parents in a parochial school in the 1960s.
Seven-year-old Anna doesn't understand why her parents are concerned about
the problems Sister Anne's color might cause until a paper airplane sails
through the classroom with a poem on its wings. The teacher reads the poem aloud:
"Roses are red,/Violets are blue./Don't let Sister Anne/get any black on you."
Embracing the moment, the woman teaches her students about her heritage.
Although a few children are pulled out of the class by their parents, those who stay
have an unforgettable year. Based on the author's experience, the story has
honesty and integrity and the two main characters are well crafted. The velvety
pastel illustrations have the soft focus and pale palette of a distant memory
coupled with exquisite detail. Popp's realistic renderings capture the period
and are a perfect complement to a thoughtful text. Though ideally suited to
introductory units on civil rights, there are many groups and individuals ready
to share this gentle reminder.
Jody McCoy, The Bush School, Seattle, WA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5^-8. When Sister Anne comes to teach in a small-town parochial school
in the 1960s, she brings fun and spirit to Anna Zabrocky's second-grade
classroom, but Sister Anne is black ("Her skin was darker than any person's I'd ever
known"), and her presence makes Anna confront racism, in her community and in
herself. Sister Anne says that Anna's freckles show she has been kissed by
angels, and the nun reaches out to touch Anna's cheek, but the white child dodges
the brown hand "as if it were hot." Then someone sends a hate note to Sister
Anne's classroom, and she teaches the children about segregation and
persecution, about "Whites Only" barriers and the struggle for civil rights. Anna
cannot forget how she moved away when Sister Anne's hand reached out to her, but
the affecting pastel pictures show how she and the other children bond closely
with their great teacher as they laugh, learn, write, paint, and garden through
the school year. There is an idyllic quality to the story and the period
pictures of the perfect nun and her classroom, but the hurt is there, too, and the
message of tolerance grows out of the personal experience, which confronts
the racism and gets beyond it. Hazel Rochman
Card catalog description
Seven-year-old Anna has her first encounter with racism in the 1960s when an
African American nun comes to teach at her parochial school.
It's the early 1960s, and Anna has never seen a person with dark skin-until
she meets Sister Anne. At first she is afraid of her new teacher, but she
quickly discovers how wonderful Sister Anne is. Then one of Anna's classmates
directs a racist remark toward Sister Anne. The teacher's wise way of turning the
incident into a powerful learning experience has a profound impact on Anna.
This moving, timeless tale is perfectly illustrated with luminous, glowing
"With humor and understanding, Lorbiecki writes about a young girl's coming
to terms with racial differences." -The Horn Book
( A Child Study Children's Book Committee Children's Book of the Year
( Winner of a 1999 Storytelling World Award
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