Q&A with Miranda Paul and Luciana Navarro Powell

Today, Whose Hands Are These? author Miranda Paul and illustrator Luciana Navarro Powell talk about how they came to write a picture book about hands. 

Luciana (L) and Miranda (R)

1. Miranda, you placed a very unique spin on a common topic—community helpers. How did you get the idea to focus on the hands of community helpers and how did you choose which professions to represent in the book?

Miranda: I got the idea because I’d been talking a lot at the time about all the different jobs I’d done, and originally called the manuscript Helping Hands. My husband is one of those people who can fix just about anything, and I think it’s amazing what hands can do. As for which professions to represent in the book, they had to be ones that I could rhyme with! I wrote a few extras that didn’t make it into the book (and I’ll be sharing those top-secret ones with schools that I visit!).

2. Luciana, how did you receive the project? What attracted you to it?

Luciana: I love rhyming books, and I know how hard it is to make rhymes that work well. Miranda did an amazing job at rhyming difficult words in such a fluid way–the book is a true word puzzle. The first thought that came to my mind was, “Wow, there are going to be a lot of hands here!” I have always said that the hardest things to draw are hands, feet, and horses. You can tell how good an artist is by how well he or she draw these. So besides loving the manuscript I thought it would be a great challenge as an illustrator. Now I joke that since I did a book on hands, my next projects need to be about feet and horses.

A peek at Luciana’s drawing process!

3. What were your favorite parts of writing and illustrating Whose Hands? What challenged you?

Luciana: My favorite part of illustrating Whose Hands Are These? was including scenes and people I know in the art. I lot of the characters are friends from my community in Solana Beach, or family members. Some of them were surprises, so it’s really nice to point to the characters in the finished book and see huge smiles on people’s faces. It was also fun to weave in a sort of “parallel  story” with the guy in parachutes that gets stuck in a tree.

A challenge besides drawing the hands themselves was integrating a somewhat realistic style for the hands, which needed to be very clear and descriptive, and [having the illustrations fit] the guessing part of the book, which had a more whimsical, fun style.

Miranda’s first book

Miranda: My favorite part was trying out the riddles on my own children. My son was pretty young (about 4) when I first wrote it, and he didn’t have any pictures to go on. He guessed many of them right, but I remember reading the line “these hands are green” and he blurted out, “The Grinch!” The challenging part was finding synonyms for many of the action words that go along with each job, so that I could make internal rhymes and natural sounding rhythms in each of the riddles. I like that sort of challenge, so it was all fun and games, really.

My favorite part after writing the book was getting the first copies and surprise-gifting them to my mom and two of my elementary teachers, whose patient hands (and hearts) helped me write my first fiction and nonfiction books when I was a kid. I made everyone at Barnes & Noble applaud for them. Tears followed—the happy kind, though!

Thanks, Miranda and Luciana! 

Use your hands to pick up a copy of Whose Hands Are These? in a store near you.

9 thoughts on “Q&A with Miranda Paul and Luciana Navarro Powell

  1. Angela Turner

    I enjoyed learning about the process behind this new book. Hearing from both the author and illustrator at the same time about the book they both worked on was really nice. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Jill Proctor

    I look forward to reading Whose Hands Are These? I love when writing a story feels like fun and games! It was interesting to hear how it came about. Thanks!

  3. Michelle Hackel

    I love the picture of Luciana and Miranda. It's always exciting to see the real connections between the writer and the artist who collaborate to make a book (and the publishers that support those connections).

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