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Hold Hands

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NYT Book Review 2019 25 Best Children's Books

In Hold Hands , beloved graphic novelist and children's book author Sara Varon offers a sweet rhyming story for toddlers about friendship and connection.

Hold hands each time you cross the street.
Hold hands on the bus if you don’t have a seat.
Hold hands when you say goodbye.
And also when you’re jumping high.

Everybody holds hands. You can hold hands with your little brother or your best friend. You can hold hands with your classmate or even your favorite doll! Gather up your little ones, hold their hands, and share this heartwarming book.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2019

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Sara Varon

17 books147 followers

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5 stars
22 (8%)
4 stars
81 (31%)
3 stars
113 (43%)
2 stars
36 (13%)
1 star
6 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,245 reviews3,563 followers
July 7, 2019
I'm not that enamoured with this. It's for very young children, and much of the hand-holding is done from a safety perspective. I was hoping for something that talked a bit about how holding hands is nothing to be ashamed of, but this appears to be aimed at an age group that hasn't reached an age where they might be teased for holding hands.

The illustrations are just okay for me, and the meter is passable. There was something wrong with my e-book copy, though, because blocks of text seemed to be missing in a few places. That's disappointing.

This is probably going to find more fans in the toddler and preschool set. The bright pictures and rhyming text would make it a good choice for storytime. But I'm not sure it's going to have much appeal for older readers.
Profile Image for Amanda.
3,654 reviews30 followers
July 18, 2019
Grrr...uneven rhyming we meet again! Blech! I'll not hold back here; Varon is not one of my favorite illustrators, though I was looking forward to seeing how she would tell about this topic. And NOPE.

I DID like how she put a sort of burst emphasis around the hand-holding to emphasize it; that was fun! I wanted hand-holding to be taken to the next level though, I guess with showing that everyone, anyone can hold hands, and that it's fully okay to hold hands. Bummer. I liked the safety aspects, and the love aspects, and the sweet touches...just wanted a bit more. *sigh*
Profile Image for Mathew.
1,492 reviews170 followers
May 16, 2021
When we're very young, we're asked to hold hands for lots of different reasons: crossing the road, walking with a partner outside of school or even around a busy town with a parent. In a sweet, rhyming sequence, this is what the book is about. It's a colourful, cartoon-like picture book but I felt that the rhyming and poem itself stilted the meaning. Why hold hands going into a car? Or on a bridge? (I'd rather hold the railings). It's a well-intentioned story but it wasn't for me. Also, what if we don't like holding hands?*

*For the record, I am a fan of holding hands.
Profile Image for Carla.
5,928 reviews127 followers
January 31, 2019
3.5 stars, rounded up. This is a very cute book about holding hands. With a rhyming text and delightful illustrations, the author shows the importance of holding hands. Whether it is for safety (crossing the street) for comfort (when someone is sad), for confidence (going down steep stairs) or just for friendship, holding hands is a wonderful thing to do. My only drawback was that occasionally, the pacing and cadence changed and was a bit off for the rhyming patterns. I find that often, little ones don't want to hold hands because they think they are getting too big and grown up, so this would also be a good story to use when you are trying to keep a little one holding on for safety. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
Profile Image for Rosemary.
435 reviews11 followers
May 22, 2019
It's a day in the life of a preschooler in this adorable graphic novel by award-winning graphic novelist Sara Varon. Her adorable animal characters all hold hands: camels hold hands with giraffes, the sun and the moon share a hand-to-hand clasp as they pass in the sky, cats and dogs walk hand-in-hand, even the title page of the book sports colorful letters with sweet, smiling faces, holding onto one another. The whole day is seen as a series of hand-holding moments: a little bear holds hands with his mother, father, and brother during morning routines and on the way to daycare; holds hands with teachers and friends during the school day; during playdates; on the way home, and during bedtime stories and nighttime routines. The rhyming text is short and sweet, assuring readers that every time is a good time to hold hands: "Hold hands when the day is new, when you need a pal, or when one needs you"; "Hold hands with your buddy when you're on the go, especially if your teacher tells you so". The illustrations are colorful, boldly outlined, and loaded with sweet details, like a father wearing bunny slippers, or a heart charm hanging off a mom's rear view mirror. Sara Varon emphasizes the power of connection by creating little starbursts around each hand-holding relationship.

Hold Hands is perfect for kids in daycare and preschool, and it's an adorable testament to the power of physical contact. A must-have.
Profile Image for The Library Lady.
3,587 reviews522 followers
November 11, 2019
I am not even going to go int the art, except that I find it sad that she had a Sendak fellowship, because I'll be kind and agree that the art is "cute," but that's being kind, and as far as I will go.

Now to the text. I have a treasured memory of my youth, when my parents would say (to the point that it turned into a chant for me and my brother): "This is a parking lot, you have to be very careful, you have to hold onto someone's hand." And contrary to what one nice reviewer said here, that's a message for city and suburban kids alike, and I wish more parents would say it in parking lots. So I liked the idea of a book about holding hands, and hoped that it might have that lesson without Berenstaining it up to the point of nausea.

But this is more about holding hands not just for safety but for love, for comfort, for friendship, and all sorts of emotions. And that's fine.

What is NOT fine, and is why this is so lowly rated is that the rhyme works for about 3 sets, then the meter changes and changes, and by the end Varon isn't even bothering with smooth rhythm, or ever words that vaguely rhyme. What the hell was the editor thinking about?

I could use someone to hold MY hand right now to console me for having read this book. Of course, that would have made typing the review difficult....
Profile Image for Tracey.
2,744 reviews
March 13, 2019
children's picture book (reviewed by uncorrected galley), ages 2-5
sweet rhyming text and Varon's winning illustrations emphasize staying close to loved ones and helping each other. Sometimes the instances when you'd hold hands are physically awkward (or maybe just look that way in Varon's cartoons) such as when getting into the car, across the table eating cheese, or when getting a goodnight kiss from your parent (I would keep my hands snugly under the blankets, but maybe my drafty house is colder than most), but they are certainly possible, for the most part.
I would like to see more differently-abled characters--a blind man on the bus, a kid in a wheelchair (not necessarily holding hands with anyone) incidentally included in the pictures. That would be nicer.
Profile Image for Becky B.
7,492 reviews93 followers
May 21, 2019
A rhyming picture book celebration of all the times and situations when it is good to hold hands.

The holding hands situations covered in this book include things like companionship, safety, solidarity, friendship, love, lending bravery, care, and bittersweet moments. It’s a cute picture book with Varon’s signature style of animal characters and kids will likely eat it up. There are lots of picture books about hugs and kisses out there, but I can’t think of another one about holding hands. Kids love these books about everyday acts that show people care. I think this will be quite popular. Varon’s other books are constant favorites in our libraries, and it will be fun to introduce her to a younger set. Highly recommended.

I received an ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
November 30, 2019
Ideal for sharing with little ones as they learn the many reasons for holding hands with someone, this sweet picture book offers reassurance that holding hands can provide comfort and security when out and about in unfamiliar places. Telling the story in rhyming lines makes it even more relatable for its intended young audience. There are several different animals of various sizes featured in the illustrations, and youngsters will finish it with a new appreciation for why someone might want to hold someone's hand. It has absolutely nothing to do with romance--at least in this book--but everything in the world to do with love and caring and wanting to offer support to someone else.
Profile Image for Nadina.
2,476 reviews3 followers
November 24, 2019
Very simplistic, and while yes it is good to hold hands for safety, there are plenty of books that teach this in a less list-like way. This book felt like a list of times you can hold hand.
I felt like it didnt really cover holding hands just because (for friendship, etc.) very much, it listed times but didn't really explain it, but it also didnt seem to cover that it's okay to not hold hands too.
Profile Image for Ann.
724 reviews8 followers
June 28, 2019
I am a HUGE Sara Varon fan and this book does not disappoint! Great for all elementary students and perfect for social/emotional learning. Great way to introduce the concept of metaphor to upper elementary students.
Profile Image for Spencer Vaughn.
20 reviews
November 21, 2019
this is a very simple book for young children, maybe first grade or kindergarten. This would be a great book to help teach buddy system rules to students but it is not particularly interesting as a story. This book has limited application for teachers or students after the first few grades.
Profile Image for Carol Tilley.
769 reviews48 followers
December 27, 2018
A sweet and encouraging book for preschoolers.
(Read via e-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley).
Profile Image for Erin.
3,718 reviews45 followers
June 23, 2019
A very cute and sing-songy description of many times to hold hands. Not comprehensive, but it makes the point. Holding hands can be for anyone, for many reasons.
Profile Image for Debbie.
333 reviews2 followers
July 13, 2019
Great little read aloud for the toddler set. Cozy and cute. Demonstrates the benefits of holding hands.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
334 reviews6 followers
July 25, 2019
A very sweet story with awesome illustrations!
Profile Image for Gwen.
452 reviews1 follower
August 3, 2019
I'm gonna read this to my almost two year old and hope she starts wanting to hold my hand again and stop breaking my heart by saying "no" any time I ask. lol
381 reviews
August 5, 2019
Checked this out at the library as it was reviewed in the NY Times Book Review. I think this would be a great book for a child who lives in the city (versus the suburbs).
Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews

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