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He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

4.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  376 Ratings  ·  68 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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The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack KeatsI Like Myself! by Karen BeaumontA Chair for My Mother by Vera B. WilliamsPlease, Baby, Please by Spike LeeAmazing Grace by Mary Hoffman
African American Picture Books
23rd out of 290 books — 90 voters
Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen LevineEllington Was Not a Street by Ntozake ShangePlease, Baby, Please by Spike LeeMoses by Carole Boston WeatherfordDancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
Best of Kadir Nelson
12th out of 43 books — 25 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 689)
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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.
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!
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
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.
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
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
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
Jun 12, 2013 Don Tucker rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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.
Cara Byrne
Nov 03, 2015 Cara Byrne rated it it was amazing
Nelson at his best. This brief picture book prose does not deviate from the well-known spiritual, but Nelson's inspiring artwork puts a beautiful boy and his family at the forefront, embracing the connection between this young boy and the vast world in front of him.
Sep 11, 2014 Jenny rated it really liked it
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
Beautiful, detailed illustrations to accompany a hopeful and welcoming message! Great book for diversity, a love for the world and everyone in one's community.
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.
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
The lyrics of the well-known spiritual are set against stunning pencil, oil, and watercolor artwork.

Feb 01, 2016 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pre-k, for-aj
Looove the illustrations in this picture book about a very old and well known African American spiritual.
Keith Little
Apr 25, 2016 Keith Little rated it it was amazing
Incredible illustrations highlight the powerful text of this well-loved folk song. A must-have.
Malckey P
Jul 22, 2015 Malckey P rated it it was amazing
Kadir Nelson is one of my favorite authors! I love singing this song when we read this book!
Apr 16, 2016 Lia added it
Shelves: picture-books
Picture Book #20

He's Got the Whole world in His Hands went along to the song. It was about a little boy who has so many things that are wonderful. He realized how great his life is with so many beautiful things around him.
Read  Ribbet
Gorgeously illustrated (expect no less from Kadir Nelson) verses of this familiar song.
Jan 13, 2015 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Wonderful...happy...uplifting...colorful...made me smile and want to sing!
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
Katherine Roush
Jan 31, 2016 Katherine Roush rated it really liked it
As usual, Kadir Nelson's illustrations are beautiful.
Jan 16, 2015 Shasta rated it it was amazing
A simply beautiful book for children of all ages!
May 21, 2014 Mckinley rated it it was amazing
Lovely illustrations to go with this classic song.
Sep 22, 2015 Katra rated it really liked it
Beautiful and moving in its simplicity.
Feb 18, 2015 Tanesha rated it it was amazing
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.
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