Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller (9780316562584)
Aria lovers her fluffy, touchable hair but others love it a bit too much for her comfort. It seems like every time she leaves the house, someone is reaching out to feel her hair. She tries going to the ocean to get away from everyone, but even the mermaids want a touch. The same thing happens when she heads to the jungle or the castle. The only place she can find peace is on a deserted island, but she gets too lonely there. When she returns home, Aria figures out the power of setting boundaries and not allowing others to touch her without her permission.
Written in a wonderfully accessible way, this picture book will speak to children who are always having their hair touched, particularly African-American girls who wear their natural hair. The incorporation of whimsical settings makes the entire book feel lighter and a bit playful. The seriousness of being able to say no to others, even adults, is the final part of the book and is handled perfectly with just the right tone. The art in this picture book is bright and friendly. Aria’s hair is depicted in a most touchable way adding to the appeal of the book.
Humor adds a nice touch to this book about the importance of being able to demand respect for your body and hair. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James (9781572842243)
This picture book celebrates the power of a fresh haircut, the transformation that comes with it and the empowerment that it brings. Written in second person, the poetry draws the reader in and right onto the barber chair with a drape that becomes a superhero cape and men around that seem presidential and majestic. There is affirmation in this book, a celebration of the barbershop, the culture and the community. The text of the book reads like slam poetry, speaking truths and adding wonder. The illustrations are paintings that capture the place but also the joy of the haircut. The combination is exceptional, a book that belongs in every public library in every community. Appropriate for ages 5-7. (Reviewed from library copy.)
When’s My Birthday by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson (9781626722934)
When I was little, I asked every day for an entire year whether it was my birthday and then realized how very long it was between them! So this book is exactly the book I needed as a small child. This picture book ask the question over and over again about when a birthday is coming, dreaming of cake and presents and a party. Fogliano uses rhythm and internal rhymes to give the book a fast paced structure that almost sings. It is quick and funny and infectious. Robinson’s illustrations are a treat with their use of collage and a diverse cast of children longing for their special day. The book ends with a birthday, just as it should. Share this one with children longing for their next birthday or who are just about to have one. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Review copy supplied by Roaring Brook Press.)
The World Shines for You by Jeffrey Burton, illustrated by Don Clark (9781481496322)
This shining and shimmery board book is done in a large format. The thick pages are filled with metallic shine that is embossed on the pages to create texture that can be felt by little fingers, allowing it to be explored by touch. The text of the book is simple and inviting, exploring all of the ways in which the world shines. There are snowflakes and flowers and forests and leaves, it all comes together in a celebration of that child. A great book to share aloud with one or two children and discuss the pictures together. There is so much to explore here! Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)
Big Wig: A Little History of Hair by Kathleen Krull, illlustrated by Peter Malone
I am a huge fan of Krull’s nonfiction books for children. Just as her earlier books, this one has a wry sense of humor and contains fascinating facts. Here the subject is the history of hairdos. Krull starts with prehistory in Africa and then travels forward until 2007 where the most expensive haircut in history is purchased for $16,300. In between, readers will learn about different trends in color, styles, lengths and curls. The book takes an already interesting topic and through details and facts makes it even more compelling.
Krull’s writing is skillful as always, bundling intriguing facts together into small stories that capture a moment in time. Her tone of wonder and interest makes for an inviting read, encouraging readers to be excited about the information as well. Make sure you head all the way to the end and read about the history of hair extensions too.
Malone’s illustrations are fine lined and work well to both depict historical figures and to place them in unique and hair-raising situations. He changes his style of illustration to match the time period and culture at times, such as the Japanese samurai warrior page. His colors are just as fine and carefully selected as his lines are.
No snarls in this book. In fact, it goes to great lengths to avoid tangles. One might say, this is a top-knot book. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from copy received from Arthur A. Levine Books.