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My Hands Tell a Story
Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrations by Tonya Engel



Written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Tonya Engel. My Hands Tell a Story is about a little girl who becomes transported by the tales her grandmother’s hands tell, while baking bread with her. Tales that spring from the rose-painted nails, a flower-banded wedding ring, and the way her fingers move and glide, show just how these hands have many tales to tell, but only if you listen.

This best seller is an impactful tale that honors family and self-love. It beautifully shows how you carry memories within yourself that are meant to be shared with your loved ones. Children will discover that their own hands have the power to shape the start of their life story, and for generations to come!


Kelly Starling Lyons is a writer and children's book author. She is also one of the founding members of the blog The Brown Bookshelf, which raises awareness of Black children's book creators and features author and illustrator spotlights.


★ School Library Journal Starred Review
★ Publishers Weekly Starred Review
★ BCALA Best of the Best Booklist
★ Charlotte Huck Award Recommended Book for Outstanding Fiction for Children
★ New York Public Library Best Books for Kids

"Hands and the stories they tell become the means through which a Black child bonds with a beloved grandmother in this expressive, painterly picture book. While showing Zoe how to bake cinnamon bread like her mother taught her (“Ingredients are only part of it. You’ve got to get the rhythm”), Zoe’s grandma describes some of what her hands have seen and done—from dancing onstage to growing a vegetable garden early in her marriage—prompting Zoe to reflect on the future. “I look at my hands, really look at them, for the first time./ I can see memories in every line.// Clapping games with friends./ Drawing my dreams./ Building and baking,” Zoe describes. When the bread is finished, the pair high five, and Grandma remarks upon the physical similarity between their hands, while also musing about the different life experiences Zoe is sure to have. With big brushstrokes, Engel’s thickly textured paintings lend a timeless feel to Lyons’s heartwarming portrait of grandparent-child love." -- Publishers Weekly

"In this heartwarming story, Zoe, a young Black girl, shares reflective conversation with her grandma, inspired by Zoe's observations of her grandma's skillful, graceful hands as they bake bread together. The grandmother reveals how her hands hold memories, love of family, and a life lived with purpose, all of which reassure Zoe that her own hands hold strength to shape the start of her own life story. This sincere relationship of trust and care is beautifully captured in oil-painted illustrations, where quiet, personal moments within the kitchen are accompanied by an elegant, symbolic focus on hands. Engel's painterly brush strokes in captivating scenes create textured grooves, an integral element transforming the hands and scenes depicted into sculpted lines and lively colors that appear almost tangible to readers. Vivid blended layers and gentle swirls outline the figures for a glowing effect that echoes the thoughtful tone of the story. VERDICT Readers will pause to share in the happiness and sense of peace that bloom on the family's faces; the spirit of finding one's calling in this expressively illustrated book honoring family and self-love." -- Rachel Mulligan, School Library Journal

[H]  Reycraft Books  /  May 15, 2022

0.35" H x 11.6" L x 9.25" W (0.45 lbs) 32 pages