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He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
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He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

4.41  ·  Rating Details ·  433 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews

What began as a spiritual has developed into one of America’s best-known songs, and now for the first time it appears as a picture book, masterfully created by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson.Through sublime landscapes and warm images of a boy and his family, Kadir has created a dazzling, intimate interpretation, one that rejoices in the connectedness of people and natu

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 8th 2005 by Dial Books
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Community Reviews

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Mar 18, 2012 Kellee rated it really liked it
Kadir Nelson beautifully illustrates the spiritual "He's Got the Whole World in his Hands". This book reminds me of one of my favorite activities as a child. In 3rd grade our music teacher had us listen to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" and we were all given a lyric to illustrate. I got the line "They'll learn much more than I'll ever know" and drew a child bringing home an A paper to their mom. Then all of the parents and kids got together and the music teacher did a slide show of o ...more
Mar 04, 2016 SaraLaLa rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, to-buy
This is a typical song book. If you know the song "He's got the whole world in his hands," then you know the whole book. However, the illustrations are BREATH TAKING! Oh. My. Goodness. I don't like spiritual books, even if they just subtly say He or Him to refer to god, but I'd own this book just for the beautiful pictures.

Unfortunately, I now have that darn song stuck in my head!
Feb 28, 2016 Monique rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
I've decided to read 29 children's book during Black History month 2016. This was book #27. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson. Nelson also illustrated this book using the lens of a child. The artwork is vivid, colorful and impactful to the story. The historical significance of the song is described at the end. Wonderful display of our African American culture.
Sep 15, 2014 Sylvester rated it it was amazing
10* art
5* words/song

Really the most gorgeous, big illustrations, and a lovely feel-good, sing-along book.
I love the illustrations that accompany this spiritual and appreciate the author's note about the song.
Dec 03, 2016 Unique rated it it was amazing
Shelves: educ-378
Text-to Teaching Connection: What is a response activity that you can do in a classroom with children in response to the book?

Kadair Nelson turned this beautiful notable church or spiritual song I heard coming up throughout my life. I do not hear it as much as I did when I was a little girl. However for an activity after this particular read, I would play different versions of this song for the children to hear. Then I would have the class sing a few times, until they all knew it. Then I would
Jul 05, 2014 MrsMaryLibrary rated it really liked it
Shelves: apl, black-heritage
Plot Summary

This book uses the lyrics of a traditional spiritual song to describe how all of God’s creations are cradled in his care. The moon, stars, wind, rain, rivers, mountains, oceans, world and all the people are, “in His hands” as expressed verse by verse using repetitive text. Nature is not the only focus of the book as it evokes a family centered feel through the young boy’s observations


Kadir Nelson takes a timeless song, touches it with lush illustrations, and presents it in su
Don Tucker
Jun 12, 2013 Don Tucker rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 03, 2016 E.S. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, cultural
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands is a touching book written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson based on the similarly titled spiritual song about a boy who lives in America with his father and sister, but has a mother and two siblings who live in Africa. It’s a book about togetherness, hope, and family. According to the week 8 lecture, a good multicultural book is diverse, avoids stereotypes, has a great perspective, and considers what type of language is being used.
This book is an appropriate
Ariana Thomas
Reading Level –Primary K-2

Genre: Picture Book
Main Characters: young boy
Setting: the main character’s community
POV: narrator

Based on the popular song loved by all, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” is brought to life by Kadir Nelson through the beautiful imagery of the illustrations and spiritual lyrics. Celebrating the joy of community and nature, this great picture book connects readers with the Earth as they follow the main character on a stroll through his neighborhood appreciating the
Wrapping his exquisite artwork around the traditional spiritual, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," author-illustrator Kadir Nelson somehow gives a fresh interpretation to the lyrics of the song. Although the song is often sung by children and in church congregations, it is interpreted here amid the splendors of the natural world. Families fly kites in the breeze, one child lifts his face to the sky to catch the rain's downpour, and tender scenes highlight the affection between a parent an ...more
Sunshine Artadi
Jul 06, 2015 Sunshine Artadi rated it it was amazing
This book is a wonderful illustration of the song, "He's got the whole world in his hands." The author has really put a lot of thought in the illustration of his characters in the book. This hymn is a traditional African American spirituals. This African American spiritual first published in 1927. I particularly like the fact the he put in different nationalities that are holding hands. That was a good depiction that there are other races in the world and that we should embrace them and show our ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Becky rated it it was amazing
Have I mentioned lately how much I love and adore Kadir Nelson? Oh, I have? In my review of All God's Critters. Well, it's something worth repeating. Again and again. Maybe my enthusiasm will encourage you to seek out his works for yourself, to share his works with your children or grandchildren. They're just beautiful books. So amazingly detailed, so magically right. Looking at his books make me feel--and in this instance, it makes me feel happy. I mean how could you look at this book--even jus ...more
Apr 14, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
In all likely hood I wouldn't have given this book more than a glance had I not heard the author/illustrator speak. He has a terrific story about his drive to become an artist. He also expanded on the process he goes through when illustrating a book. I bought this one for my nephew. The story is nothing special but the pictures are beautiful! My favorite thing about the book is that one of the illustrations is of a young boy's bedroom. Hanging on the wall is a child's drawing. Nelson drew this t ...more
Lucy Meadors
He's Got the Whole World in his Hands, written by Kadir Nelson, is an exceptional picture book that depicts the famous spiritual song in pictures. Through landscapes and pictures of a boy and his family, Kadir Nelson eloquently shows the connection between people and nature. I believe his depiction of a diverse family shows that spirituality has no boundaries. I really believe all of Nelson's illustrations really add to the reading experience for the reader. The pictures are so warm and inviting ...more
Nov 16, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s, 2011, picture
I don't normally care for picture books based on a song. It never quite seems to work for me. But I will totally make an exception for Kadir Nelson's beautiful paintings for the spiritual, He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. The paintings are centered on a young African American boy living in San Francisco. And maybe that's why I like it -- the song is about one boy, one family, and faith. Instead of showing a bunch of people or places, we can see how this song shows one specific and wonderfu ...more
Nov 20, 2008 Art rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the whole world
Kadir Nelson adds vivid colors and families of color to the ol' spiritual song, "He's got the Whole World in His Hands". Every page is singable, so much so that just by following the pictures in the book, my toddler daughter could sing every verse that is printed after just a couple of times of reading/singing it with her. The tune with a music sheet is on the last page of the book.
Brothers and sisters, sun and rain, rivers and mountains, oceans and seas, you and me, everybody here, everybody t
Apr 24, 2012 Frances rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, community
1.This story is actually a song that is brought to like by Kadir Nelson.
2.Pictures are engaging.
3.This book connects family community and nature.

Learning activity

I think this will be a great opportunity to go outside allow each child to bring in a towel from home find a grassy area, and have a dicussion about our enviroment.Dicuss how children view might view their enviorment.
Mar 18, 2012 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
Kadir Nelson does it again with this story that is grounded in the familiar gospel spiritual. Kadir shows us what we all see around us, ranging from far-flung galactic images to at-home depictions that include kids drawings pasted to the wall. HE'S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD... is very strong on the connections within a family, showing affection and activities. The image of a boy enjoying a downpour is a gem.
Sep 10, 2008 Libbydale rated it it was amazing
Wonderful art illustrations--now I know why these books often cost $15-20. (They probably should be more for that reason, but then, who could afford them?). The beautful pictures with the familiar verses to the old spiritual made this perfect for a four year old with a medium attention span for book reading. Plus you get to sing. This is going on his list to Santa.
Mary Hood
May 04, 2013 Mary Hood rated it it was amazing
Kindergarten-Grade 3
The illustrations in this book are beautiful. This book takes the well known spiritual song and sets it to beautifully illustrated pictures conveying the connection between people and the beauty of nature. This book is good for using for discussions around, people, family, our world, and recognizing the beauty in all things.
Traci Bold
Oct 15, 2015 Traci Bold rated it it was amazing
Author/illustrator Kadir Nelson brings to picture book life, the classic song, 'He's Got the Whole World In His Hands'.

Everyone knows the song but what brings his book to life are the vibrant and beautiful illustrations. Kadir captures the very essence of the song.

This is a #mustread book for all ages simply for the visual effects.

Published by Dial Books for Young Readers.
Jan 28, 2010 CH_Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mc-literature
This is a picture book based on the spiritual He's got the Whole World in his Hands. The illustrations really tell the meaning of this spiritual. They show pictures of all different races holding hands and the meaning of us all being part of one big family. This is another great book where music can be incorporated into the classroom with young children.
Feb 02, 2016 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, 2016
Absolutely stunning illustrations accompany lyrics to this well-known spiritual, and the full lyrics are included at the end of the book along with a note from the author. Perfect for sharing one-on-one, although if you can sing it, then do so! Highly recommended.
Jan 13, 2013 Beth rated it really liked it
Kadir Nelson illustrates the popular spiritual song "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and does so to perfection. Nelson's illustrations are always so stunning that they make me want to own some of his artwork to hang in my house.
Feb 20, 2008 Joanne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I love this book. It's beautiful illustrations of the song, featuring a boy and his family and the San Francisco hills and water around them. Just gorgeous. I sing it as we turn the pages, and our youngest wants to hear it over and over and over again.
Oct 05, 2012 Ratforcekids rated it liked it
Your daughter may enjoy the beautifully illustrated picture book version of the classic song He's Got the Whole World in His Hands. The author, Kadir Nelson, is a much beloved children's book author and brings his song to life in a beautiful way.
Scooping it Up
Dec 23, 2009 Scooping it Up rated it it was amazing
If I could give this 6 stars I would. The paintings are amazing, and the simple text (the lyrics to all 4 verses of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" makes me bawl like a baby. We love this book, and the message and the images of beautiful families. I highly recommend it.
Your daughter may enjoy the beautifully illustrated picture book version of the classic song He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. The author, Kadir Nelson, is a much beloved children’s book author and brings this song to life in a beautiful way.
Christina Davis
You can sing or speak this book. I can see myself singing it to a class and them repeating after me. The main characters are a black family. The illustrations are brightly colored; lots of rainbows and sunshine. I like this book so much I bought it!
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