With My Hands by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

With My Hands, a poetry collection for ages 5-10, celebrates the endless creativity of humans from the earliest ages.

With My Hands: Poems about Making Things by Amy Ludwig VanDerater, illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson.  Clarion, 2018, 24 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 4-8

Recommended for: ages 5-10

A maker creates something new/ that never was before.  The pages after this opening poem celebrate the things we make: not just the “artistic” kids, but all kids.  Not just painting and modeling but greeting cards, sock puppets, cookies, forts, shadow pictures—and messes.  Not just “art,” but useful things and playthings, throwaways and keepsakes.  Maybe even poetry.  The examples in this picture book show different forms and styles, rhyming and unrhyming.  For example, “Parachute”:

I cut a parachute from plastic,

tied my guy on with elastic,

threw him from a window (drastic),

watched him drift to earth—fantastic!

The artwork is likewise various: sketch lines, mixed-media drawing, thumbprints and collage.

What’s missing is a sense of where we get this ability.  We make, of course, because we’re image-bearers of our Maker.  One poem about paper snowflakes implies that someone is making real snowflakes—but who?  I wish that I could meet the girl/ who snips real snowflakes out of white./ Her scissors must be very small./ Her dancing hands snip through the night.  But except for that weird flight of fancy, With My Hands is an inspiration and encouragement to make use of our endless abilities to create.

Cautions: None

Overall rating: 4 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic value: 4.5

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.


  1. Katie on April 24, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Thank you for another great review! Love the parachute poem:)
    Did you know that this Thursday, April 24th is Poem in Your Pocket Day?
    Share a poem you love in anyway imaginable at school, in your community or
    at work. Bring printed copies everywhere you go and hand them out or anony-
    mously deposit them in random or strategic locations where someone will find them
    and be inspired, dazzled, cheered up, soothed or intrigued.

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