Rainbow Hands is a stunning and magnetic picture book cataloguing the different colours a little boy paints his nails in order to express his moods and feelings.
Something in the way this book has been crafted stopped me in my tracks. I slowed down to absorb the pages both in terms of the stunning, dappled images and to consider the ideas conjured up by the colours.
‘On the days I look at myself in the mirror and wonder, “What shall I be today?”… I paint my nails in the colour of possibilities. AN INFINITE WHITE.’
The pictures are not clearly defined, the colour is speckled and varied with tonal shifts, mirroring the prevailing theme of the book: identity. The book explores the theme of expressing and being true to oneself regardless of accepted societal gender norms. It challenges the idea that we are set in clear expectations of what to do and how to behave or express ourselves depending on gender. A complex, very sensitive and multi-faceted issue spanning cultures and societies and one which must be treated with sensitivity, respect and heightened awareness. This book provides ample opportunity for children to escape into the beauty of expression and into challenges that can be faced when we break the ‘norm’.
‘At times, Papa frowns and says, “What have you done to your nails?” At other times, he says, “Why don’t you paint on paper instead?” “It’s fun painting my nails,” I want to tell him. “It makes my hands look beautiful!”‘
Alongside the theme of being true to yourself, the book also gives young readers the chance to explore more abstract concepts. The child in the story assigns colours to his emotions and responses. I love the idea of children exploring which colours represent their emotions and responses.
‘When I wake from a lovely dream of magical fairies in faraway lands… I paint my nails in the colour of mystery. A PERFECT PURPLE.’
The images and references to India are intriguing to explore and add richness to a diverse and challenging text. A definite for any reception and lower key stage one classroom. So many opportunities for children to explore self-expression, identity, colour and culture.
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