Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Hand Over Hand

Publish May 29, 2017

Alma Fullerton’s latest picture book, Hand Over Hand, tells the story of Nina, who dreams of fishing with her grandfather, but must remain on shore because “a boat is not the place for a girl.” In spite of being ridiculed by the other fisherman in their Filipino village, Lolo agrees to let Nina accompany him for a day, on the condition she take responsibility for her own hook and any fish she may catch. As Lolo’s buckets slowly fill, while hours go by without a tug on her line, Nina begins to wonder whether the other fishermen are right and her grandfather has made a mistake. But when Nina finally gets a bite, it is Lolo who insists that Nina bring in her first catch on her own, helping her prove to herself and her village that girls can fish too.

Hand Over Hand is a deceptively quiet tale of the power of perseverance and courage. Fullerton’s soothingly poetic text combines with Benoit’s dreamy watercolour paintings to create a sense of unrushed calm that ultimately highlights Nina’s hard-fought triumph on the water. Not only does Hand Over Hand depict a young girl successfully pushing against gender role expectations, Nina and Lolo’s loving relationship shows just how much can be accomplished through trust and patience. The book’s touching final image suggests that Nina’s achievement has a significance that reaches beyond one girl. A gently compelling story, Hand Over Hand is highly recommended for readers of all ages and is especially well-suited to being read aloud.

Roseanne Gauthier
Roseanne Gauthier

Roseanne Gauthier is the Youth Services Librarian for the PEI Public Library Service. She has worked in the Faculties of Education at both the University of Prince Edward Island and Mount Saint Vincent University and spent two amazing years as the Children’s Librarian at the Confederation Centre Public Library. She holds an MLIS from Dalhousie University, and an MA from the University of Waterloo. Roseanne lives in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with her husband, their adorable daughter, and two tuxedo cats.

The National Reading Campaign publishes children's book reviews under a Creative Commons License. This review is entirely free to reproduce and republish online and in print. Credit must be given to the reviewer and the National Reading Campaign. Reviews can be edited for brevity only. Contact Us for more information.