Hand Over Hand by Alma Fullerton

Hand Over Hand

Alma Fullerton, Author

Renné Benoit, Illustrator

Second Story Press, Fiction, Mar. 14, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Fishing, Gender roles, Courage, Empowerment, Intergenerational, Multicultural

Opening: On the shores of a Filipino fishing village an old banca boat rocks as waves lick its keel. WHOOSH, WHOOSH, WHOOSH.

Synopsis: Nina wants to convince her grandfather – lolo –  to take her fishing with him on his old banca boat. Lolo’s answer is always the same: “A boat is not the place for a girl. Your job is on shore.”  Nina doesn’t want to dry fish with the women and is determined to show her grandfather that a girl can go fishing and do everything a boy can do. When she promises lolo that she will bait her own hook and remove her own fish, her grandfather says “Okay, we will try it. Just for today.”  The other fisherman scoff.  While lolo’s buckets fill with fish, Nina waits for a single tug. Will she prove to her village that a girl can fish?

Why I like this book:

Alma Fullerton has written a charming story about a Filipino girl with big ambitions and a lot of courage. It is also an empowering story for children to see Nina believe in herself. She wants to prove to her grandfather and her village that a girl can do what ever she wants. She’s smart and doesn’t give up, especially when she’s not getting any nibbles.

This a beautiful intergenerational story that celebrates the relationship between  a grandfather and his granddaughter who spend the day fishing together. Lolo is very patient with Nina and offers her helpful advice. And Nina makes lolo proud when she reels in the biggest catch of the day and proves that she can do anything.

The text is lyrical and has a rhythm to it like the rocking of a boat. Nina observes lolo’s fluid and swift movements “hand over hand ” and “fish after fish.” Children will enjoy the repeating this refrain with Nina throughout the story. Renné Benoit’s illustrations are soft and soothing watercolors that contribute to the mood of the story and show the joy of Nina’s journey .

Resources: This is a perfect classroom discussion book for all young children. Use Hand Over Hand to start a conversation about how girls and boys see each other. Can girls put worms on hooks, become scientists, or drive a truck? Can boys tap dance, babysit, or become a nurse?  The story takes place in another country. Do they think there may be more gender stereotypes for children living in another country like the Philippines?

Alma Fullerton is the award-winning author of the picture books A Good Trade, Community Soup and In a Cloud of Dust, When the Rain Comes. Visit Fullerton at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

21 thoughts on “Hand Over Hand by Alma Fullerton

  1. What a lovely choice for Father’s Day weekend! I love intergenerational stories & am so happy to learn of one that includes girl power, breaking gender roles & is multicultural. Thank you for a wonderful review.


  2. I love all the examples you share with us of the text. the language sounds really beautiful. Definitely a story to spark great discussions in the class room.


  3. What a great book. I can’t wait for read it. I always love spunky, “rule” breaking girls, who show that everyone should follow their dreams. Thanks Patricia for highlighting it.


  4. This sounds a like a book that will empower girls. Not to mirror the comments of others, but I, too, enjoy intergenerational books. While I’m looking at everyone’s PPBF posts, I opened my library’s catalog in another browser, and I’m reserving book after book – this one is definitely included on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds like a beautiful story. My oldest loves going fishing with her daddy. Albeit not on a boat (but maybe one day!). I think they’d both enjoy this one.


  6. Sounds like a delightful book Pat. Having four young granddaughters I’m always interested in stories that highlight the fact that girls can do anything a boy can do, but I think in this country (UK) at least, there may be more issues around boys wanting to do things that traditionally girls do.


    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. All girls need to feel empowered. I’ve also wondered about issues around boys doing things that traditionally girls do. In the US, many have role models with stay-at-home dads.


  7. I have fond memories of living in the Philippines, thanks for the recommendation. I really enjoy stories that introduce kids to culture and or are reflections of one’s heritage.


  8. Pingback: A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton | Children's Books Heal

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