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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

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  315 ratings  ·  57 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 natur ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 8th 2005 by Dial Books (first published August 8th 2005)
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21st out of 268 books — 80 voters
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13th out of 30 books — 25 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
10* art
5* words/song

Really the most gorgeous, big illustrations, and a lovely feel-good, sing-along book.
Sunshine Artadi
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
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
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
Don Tucker
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Good book that represents a lot of diversity. I liked the way that Nelson used San Francisco as the setting - it fits the song very well. Nelson's illustrations have a richness to them, and I love his use of light. His images have a glow about them that I really respond to.
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
Chanda Ennis
Kadir Nelson illustrates the beloved American gospel and his artwork shows the connectedness of people and nature, and give the message of faith, celebration and hope.
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
The lyrics of the well-known spiritual are set against stunning pencil, oil, and watercolor artwork.

Malckey P
Kadir Nelson is one of my favorite authors! I love singing this song when we read this book!
Read  Ribbet
Gorgeously illustrated (expect no less from Kadir Nelson) verses of this familiar song.
Wonderful...happy...uplifting...colorful...made me smile and want to sing!
Nov 20, 2008 Art rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
A simply beautiful book for children of all ages!
Lovely illustrations to go with this classic song.
Beautiful and moving in its simplicity.
Absolutely gorgeous illustrations!
Kadir Nelson's illustrations are awe inspiring. This book takes a familiar song and adds Nelson's realistically beautiful drawings. I want to share this book with everyone.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mary Boyle
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.
Scooping it Up
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.
The illustrations are beautiful! As a boy, I'd have adored this book. The perfect model for how I viewed the world when I was little.
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