What if you had so much to do that two hands simply were not enough? Well, Lauryn Marie Burks knows – she would have 100 Hands do it for her.
The story behind My 100 Hands, a product of Lauryn’s vivid imagination, all began one morning when she was just 5 years old. “We were in a hurry and I was barking out orders for Lauryn to get dressed,” says Lauryn’s father, Robert Burks, Jr. “I could see that she was in ‘la-la’ land – then she suddenly blurted out ‘daddy, I wish I had 100 hands.’”
“The next time we were getting ready, I recalled her comment and I asked her, ‘what would you do if you had 100 hands?” Burks continues. “She looked at me, almost a-matter-of-fact like, and said, ‘well, I could get dressed easier if I had 100 hands.’”
In this moment, Burks knew he had the making for a children’s book, however, he had no idea where to begin. As a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, he decided to call down to the DAAP program and ask an art professor if there were any students who would be willing to do some illustrations for a children’s book.
“We had a lot of resumes and proposals, but we chose Alexandra Hananel, 2011 graduate, who perfectly denoted the colorful images of a young child’s universe,” says Burks. “As for content, I left the words just as Lauryn said them so I could protect the integrity of it being her book.”
After seeing her first story come to life, Lauryn couldn’t stop there. In the first book, we are introduced to three characters: Happy Hand, Pretty Hand and Helpful Hand. In her second book, My 100 Hands Go To School, we get to know an additional five hands. The third book she created, Pretty Hand Goes to Paris, hones in on adventure to Paris where Lauryn and Pretty Hand take up some art classes while helping a little girl along the way.
“These hands set the stage for parents, teachers and adults in general to teach kids life lessons,” says Burks. “For example, Helpful Hand is about teaching manners and Happy Hand is all about having a positive outlook, while Pretty Hand helps talk to kids about self-esteem and charisma.”
For Lauryn, her passion for writing is simple. “I love seeing my stories come to life and all of the colors on my books!” she says. As for Burks, the most rewarding part of it all is seeing Lauryn get excited about her stories. “I’m proud that she’s imaginative and creative,” he says. “As adults, we limit ourselves to what’s possible, but Lauryn’s dreams are coming out through these books – and I find that to be wonderful.”
Although children are at the forefront, Burks stresses that he hopes there is something parents can get out of these stories, too. “I almost missed the opportunity to bring Lauryn’s stories to life because I was in a hurry,” he says. “We, as adults, get caught up in the daily life cycles, causing us to miss some of the magical moments that our children have. We want to inspire parents to pay attention to their children while also inspiring children to be creative and imaginative.”
“My goal is for my stories to become more popular, because I would really like to be an actor someday,” says Lauryn. “I also want to show kids that there are some life lessons to learn before they start their own big life of becoming whatever it is that they want to be.”