Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Sister Anne’s Hands

Popp, Wendy (Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 2000. 40 pages
First published: 1998
ISBN: 9780140565348 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, figurative language, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Growing up in the early 1960s, when “flowers had power” and “peace signs were in,” Anna Zabrocky has never seen an African-American before. But her new Grade Two teacher is a nun with dark skin whose way of making school fun is endearing to Anna. Of course, not everybody feels this way. When a student makes a nasty comment about skin colour, Sister Anne turns it into a powerful lesson on racism and the civil rights movement.

The artwork is more prominent—with each page consisting of only a few scant lines of text—yet the story engages readers because it is told in the voice of Anna, in a language that reflects her age and experience: “her eyes got kinda watery.”

Lifelike illustrations, bordered in white, have an airbrushed wistful feel that underscores the emotional state of the characters: Sister Anne’s disappointment when the paper airplane with racist words sails past her head; Anna’s pride as she offers her teacher a going-away card at the end of the year.

The challenging but important themes include racism, acceptance of differences, and treating people with kindness and respect.

  •  

    Stop reading at: “We went home with plenty on our minds.” Why was Anna feeling guilty? How do you think Sister Anne is feeling? Predict her reaction to the note. How would you have reacted?

  •  Trace your hand. On one side of the paper use colors, shapes and images to illustrate your uniqueness. On the other side, choose words and phrases celebrating human rights and freedom. Create a banner and hang it up.
  •  

    Discuss the civil rights movement. Why were children pulled out of Anna’s class? What were their parents worried about? Why did Anna’s father wonder how her teacher was “going to survive”? Do these issues still exist today?

  •  

    “Roses are red . . . .” Continue the poem, but this time, focus on commemorating human rights and freedom.

  •  

    Discuss how teachers help children grow, through subjects and experiences. Write a note to a teacher who helped you grow, explaining how he/she did so. Deliver the note if possible.

  •  

    This story takes place in the past; what issues of tolerance or intolerance do we see today? Are they related to ignorance? Fear?

  •  

    Research expressions related to people (such as freckles meaning one is kissed by an angel). Illustrate it to help others understand it. Do any of these expressions pertain to a character in the book? In your classroom?

  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture
  • Geography, History and Citizenship