Renowned feminist and social critic bell hooks takes on... hair! "Hair for hands to touch and play! Hair to take the gloom away." This rhythmic read-aloud is, on the surface, all about hair: nappy, plaited, long, short, natural, twisted, "soft like cotton, flower petal billowy soft, full of frizz and fuzz." Comb through the surface and find a celebration of childhood and girls and the freedom to express individuality. The rituals implied in the book are rooted in the traditions of hooks's own childhood, when "doing" hair was just as much an excuse for girls to laugh and tell stories and just be together. Going still deeper is the much-needed message encouraging girls to love and accept themselves (and others) just the way they are.
In bell hooks's first venture into children's books, she wisely teams up with Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Chris Raschka (Yo! Yes?, Mysterious Thelonious). Raschka's bold paint strokes on a color wash background are strikingly original--a perfect match for the exuberant text. This beautiful picture book will surely make any reader, young or old, happy to be nappy--and anyone who raved or ranted over Carolivia Herron and illustrator Joe Cepeda's Nappy Hair will welcome this joyful, celebratory book. (Click to see a sample spread. Text copyright 1999 by bell hooks. Illustrations copyright 1999 by Chris Raschka. With permission of Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children.) (Ages 3 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
This joyous ode to hair may well restart conversations that began last year with the controversy over Carolivia Herron's Nappy Hair. Bubbling over with affection, and injecting a strong self-esteem boost for girls, hooks's ebullient, poetic text celebrates the innate beauty and freedom of hair that's "soft like cotton,/ flower petal billowy soft, full of frizz and fuzz." Waxing poetic about "short tight naps" or "plaited strands all," hooks conjures all the lovely varieties of hairstyles that "let girls go running free." She sings the praises of "girlpie hair," subtly reinforcing her theme with a chorus of descriptive words like "halo" and "crown." She also evokes the intimate warmth of mother-daughter timeA"sitting still for hands to brush or braid and make the day start hopefully." A powerful, uplifting and, above all, buoyantly fun read-aloud, the text receives a superb visual interpretation by Raschka (Like Likes Like). A master of minimalism, he works here in nuanced, impressionistic watercolors and suggests his subjects with a quick stroke of the brush here, a graceful sweep of line there. Bolstering the theme of individuality, he provides softly shaded washes of varying hue that set off the dazzling array of hairstyles like an aura and create a rhythmic flow of color across the pages. Broad swoops conjure curls and braids, quick stripes of colors make barrettes, and tiny dots create beads. Though clearly of particular interest to African-American girls, the infectious energy and spirit of this volume will appeal to all readers. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.