Dancing Hands: A Story of Friendship in Filipino Sign Language

Chronicle. Jul. 2023. 40p. tr. from Filipino by Karen Llagas . Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781797213323.
PreS-Gr 2–In this heartwarming friendship story, young Sam is curious when she observes her new neighbors communicating with their hands rather than speech. Curiosity leads to familiarity as she and Mai, the family’s daughter, become fast friends. Like any pair of friends, they play games, share hopes and dreams, and learn from each other. When Mai teaches Sam to sign after a minor miscommunication, the following pages are purposefully devoid of text, letting expansively illustrated spreads convey the girls’ silent conversations. The textured colored pencil and graphite drawings are rendered in an earthy palette with a childlike, folksy feel that suits the narrative’s warm, straightforward tone. While deafness is never mentioned explicitly within the story, an afterword provides context about Filipino Sign Language, and endpapers illustrate various FSL signs.
VERDICT This beautifully uncomplicated tale of friendship with positive disability representation is an excellent choice for story times and a first purchase for picture book collections.

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