Picture Book Review: Maxine’s Hands by Dr. Lynda Jones Mubarak

A night time scene in a bedroom. Maxine, a brown skinned girl with large round glasses, sits at her desk looking at her laptop and writing in a notebook. To her right is a dollhouse and to her left is her orange cat.
Image description: A night time scene in a bedroom. Maxine, a brown skinned girl with large round glasses, sits at her desk looking at her laptop and writing in a notebook. To her right is a dollhouse and to her left is her orange cat.

Maxine’s Hands written by Dr. Lynda Jones Mubarak, picture by Adua Hernandez

From Goodreads: Have you ever been busy with an important project and discovered another situation that is just as important as your current challenge? Follow reading detective Maxine Hill as she finds another surprise waiting in her local neighborhood. A little investigation will often lead to new knowledge.

Maxine is back in this third installment. She and her family are still planning their camping trip and Maxine is now working on building a model house. Inspired by seeing an unhoused family, Maxine wants to learn how to build houses, how recycled and reused supplies can be incorporated into the design, and how she can use this skill to insure everyone has their basic need for housing met.

As always Maxine’s curiosity and enthusiasm for her projects is incredibly endearing. Max is a little better organized and a lot smarter than I was at her age, but I was totally the kid who got inspired and did my own research and projects (like writing books and building things) to satisfy my curiosity. I think kids like that will see themselves reflected here in a positive, encouraging way and those who may be curious but aren’t quite sure what to do with that feeling can see Maxine model a way forward for them.

Mubarak uses a lot of great vocabulary here and in the other Maxine books. That gears the books toward kids who are about Maxine’s age if they’re reading on their own or makes for a rich shared reading experience if read aloud to younger kiddos. The length and fewer illustrations make this better suited to second grade and up.

As I’ve said with the other Maxine books, a small form factor for the physical book might make this more appealing to the audience it’s targeted for. There are fewer pictures in this installment, which is perfect for the fourth/fifth grade readers who the book should inspire.

Adua Hernandez continues to make enticing, sweet illustrations. Maxine, with her huge glasses, and bright colors is very inviting and relatable. I can’t help but feel that in the hands of a Big Five publisher Maxine would be illustrated as white because no mention of her race or ethnicity are ever made. Thank goodness for Melanin Origins publishing Black authors and BIPOC illustrators. To me the illustrations by Hernandez are perfectly suited to Maxine’s stories and in other books she has illustrated for M. O. she drops little culturally specific details that you just don’t see in the conventional publishing industry.

Certainly have this on the shelf for fans of the previous books, but also hand sell it to the kids who love the science fair or always do the extra credit. They’ll see themselves in Maxine.

Disclosure: I was sent a review copy by the publisher, Melanin Origins, in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase the book here (not affiliate links):

Final note: If you do purchase this book, please post a review of it on Amazon. This will help other folks find the book and know that it’s worth purchasing. If you use any other book services like GoodReads or your local library’s online catalog be sure to post a review there too! And if your local library doesn’t have a copy, request that they purchase one.