Zimmer, T.V. (2009). Steady Hands: Poems about work. New York: Clarion.
Structured as sharing the events of a day, Steady Hands shares descriptive poems about various jobs, including such occupations as waiter, electrician, baker, artist, surgeon, park ranger, etc.
The people pictured in the various occupations are representative of multiple racial backgrounds and ages. While many of the jobs incorporated in the book are ones often not thought of, the vast majority are middle class jobs, with few education expectations. I go back and forth between thinking this is wonderful and realistic and thinking it’s dismissing children’s futures before they even have a chance to get that far in their education. Thoughts? Tipping the scales toward the positive side, there’s also non-stereotypical gender representations as well.
When speaking about this book of poems, Zimmer has revealed that it feels very much like her own family photo album. In fact, the illustrators, Megan Halsey and Sean Addy, incorporated the work gloves and eyes of Zimmer’s own father on the page with the poem “Welder.”
Activities to Do with the Book:
Students could write about school as though it were their job. Or they could create poems about the occupations of their various family members.
A teacher could also ask students which jobs appeal to them and why.
Also, following the style of Halsey and Addy’s illustrations, students could create a class scrapbook, with each incorporating images and poems about their school year together.
“Hot showers and fresh coffee
“The tow truck driver
fishes in the city.”
is glad she doesn’t have to see
what becomes of the clothes she sells—
the perfect folded
pastel polo shirt
on a customer’s bathroom floor.”