Title: Steady Hands: Poems About Work
Author: Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Illustrator: Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
Publisher: Clarion Books
Concepts: Goods/Services, Human Resources, Producers/Consumers, Entrepeneurs
Review: Beginning in morning and ending at night, this poetry collection celebrates some of the many jobs that make up our economy. Some of these jobs, like teachers, will be well known to children, but others, such as organizer, are likely to be new areas broadening children’s concept of what constitutes work. Some jobs focus on concrete goods, like baker or mail carrier, while others focus on services, such as librarian and lifeguard, while still others focus on creative processes, i.e., writer and artist. The author is also wise in choosing not to fall into gender stereotypes in her job descriptions – instead, we see a female electrician and a male flight attendant, to name a couple.
The author is clearly perceptive, as evidenced by such descriptors as the administrative assistant punching out at five o’clock sharp and the babysitter chatting on the phone with her best friend once the children are in bed. The choice of free-verse poetry allows for the additional lesson that not all poetry has to rhyme, but also is less didactic than a prose format, so parents and teachers might have to give additional explanations for certain jobs. Still, this book is an excellent tool for opening up a conversation about working and the availability of a multitude of different jobs for varied interests and talents.
In addition, the multi-layered illustrations, which make use of various media, literally pop from the page and will draw children’s attention to the book while leaving a lasting visual impression associated with each job.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children