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Hands That Wrap

Mothers hands are a special cooking tool. This story is a celebration of mothers’ hands around the world that prepare food with love.

Photo of Akiko Ashton
2 3

Written by

Mama’s in the kitchen

A smell of freshly cooked rice

Wet hands with water

Pinch of salts, smear on the palms

A handful of rice

Ouch! Ouch!

Isn’t rice too hot for you?

No, says Mama.

Put pickled plum in the middle

Press the rice gently together

with both hands

Turn and turn

Into a triangle

A smell of the sea

Wrap in a piece of nori seaweed


Wrapped with hands

Wrapped with love

A special Onigiri* just for me

*Japanese rice ball

Mama’s in the kitchen

A smell of fish sauce

A breeze from a fan

Colors on the table

Red, brown, white, green,

Shrimp, pork, rice vermicelli, lettuce

Don’t forget coriander!

Moisten rice paper with water

Lay colors on top of each other

Hold on tight

Roll and roll

Wrap in a sheer sheet


Wrapped with hands

Wrapped with love

Special Goi Cuon* just for me 

*Vietnamese fresh spring roll


Mama’s in the kitchen

A smell of the steamer

Bowl of flour and water

Hands in!

Knead and knead

Don’t you get tired?

No, says Mama.

Meat and onion

Chop, chop, chop

The dough is a golden coin

Flatten into a circle

Hold in a hand

Soft and soft

A spoonful of meat

Pinch and pinch softly

Wrap like swaddling a baby


Wrapped with hands

Wrapped with love

Special Buuz* just for me 

*Mongolian steamed dumpling


Hands that wrap

Mama’s hands

Mama’s food

No recipes

No measuring cups

Mama’s hands remember how

To wrap with love

Just for me

Describe the intended vision for your early childhood book manuscript in 1-2 sentences

My vision is that readers (both caregivers and children) can feel and use all five scenes as they read it and find the same sensory experience in their everyday lives especially when they prepare and eat food together. My desire is that they can find love and appreciation for their own unique culture and also for cultures different from their own.

Share your suggested book title

Hands That Wrap

How has this book been informed by early childhood language development research and evidence? (response minimum 250 Characters)

This manuscript introduces the idea of understanding and valuing cultural differences (recipes/ingredients/combinations) and similarities (hands/kitchens) while at the same time supporting children's language development by visually associating new words with new foods. The illustrations support an understanding of diverse cultures but also show children’s characters in the story with whom the readers can identify. Repeating the words "wrap" helps children to understand the meaning as an action that they can do with their caregivers. They can also be exposed to colors, shapes and sound words. It can also be a model for how caregivers can more intentionally interact with their children in everyday life activities such as preparing a meal.

Location: Country

USA / Japan

Location: State or Department

Mississippi / Saitama

Location: City

Jackson / Saitama

Tell us more about you / your team

I am a Japanese, born and raised in Japan, becoming a permanent resident in the U.S. Living in MS has made me thinks who I am as a person, a mother, and a writer because of the experience that I am seen as "other" or "different." Differences are often rejected as unwanted by the majority. It is human nature to equate "difference" with "dislike." Should I make sandwiches instead of a Japanese rice ball to my sons, so they are less likely to get bullied? I struggle, and I realize that the reason I want to write a children's book is to help children and their families overcome their fear of difference. I believe that writing about common concepts and experiences as they speak to people across diverse social boundaries is a strong method for understanding each other. It is my passion to find and emphasize similarities while respecting the unique differences among a great variety of cultures. My work is about connecting people and finding compassion that can bring us together.

Multiple Choice - Have you been previously published (online, self-published, and print included)?

  • No

Do you have an agent?

  • No

How did you hear about the Challenge? (optional question)

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

What best describes you? (optional question)

  • I am/we are creatives, writers, or artists


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dawnnbooks .

The connection between mother and food is a powerful one.
The reader can point out so much in this narrative and engage the toddler.
As an adult I still associate certain foods with my mother.
Nicely done
Good luck to us all.

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