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Nappy Hair (Dragonfly Books) Paperback – December 7, 1998
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Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Now the book opens with the family's Uncle Mordecai telling a tale. The whole book is, in fact, in Uncle Mordecai's voice and as he speaks about little Brenda, her nappyness, and the nature of African American hair itself, his family is getting ready to sit down to a summer picnic of hot dogs, side dishes, and pie. In his story, Mordecai talks about the very essence of Brenda's hair. How hard it is to untangle, the sound it makes when you try, and who Brenda is herself. He then suddenly lauches headlong (despite the repeated groans and moans of his extended family) into telling how God himself proclaimed this hair to be as it is. We do not, for the record, see God. We just hear Him as He states that this child will have at least eight complete circles in her hair per inch (a line that I love). As a result, here is a girl that avoids the straighteners, the relaxers, and the processes that would render her hair flat and dull. The book even goes so far as to explain about Africa and how this hair came straight over the slave ships and, "wouldn't stop for nothing". And then here we have her. A girl that can dance, "right on through all the wimp hair". She's proud of her hair of her head and her life. The final parting shot sees her standing with all her family, smiling at the viewer, perfectly content with who she is and what she has.
Now I haven't a clue how one goes about reading this book to groups and for a very simple reason. The book is written as a kind of call and response. Uncle Mordecai will make a statement like, "And I'm gonna tell y'all how she came up with all this nappy hair", and the various relatives will reply, "Brother, will you stop". The entire book is like this. A line or two by Mordecai, then a reply that's sometimes short and sometimes a little longer. How do you read that? Some people might have relatively little problem with the words and the stanzas. Others would definitely struggle. Should you intend to read this book for your child, sit down and go through it a couple times first. Get a feeling for the ebb and flow of the language because until you feel comfortable with what you're reading, you're not going to be able to convincingly persuade your child that this beautiful style is worth their listening.
Complimenting Carolivia Herron's words are Joe Cepeda's illustrations. The book is full of interesting details and delicate touches. Notice, if you will, that the angels that argue with the Lord that the child should not have nappy hair are, in fact, members of the girl's family. Take some time to observe how well Cepeda draws the single strand of Brenda's hair. Or, my personal favorite, the image of a girl with nappy hair sitting in Africa staring at the shocking orange sky. As she sits she is bedecked in a glorious green woven cloth, her neck, wrists, and ankles decorated. It's a moment of reflection, for both the character and the reader. It is also, in many ways, the quintessential climax of the tale.
So as you can see, this is a rare rare book. You won't find many like it in your schools, libraries, and bookstores. It's difficult to write a story about being proud about something that society, as a whole, may sniff at. I think Herron and Cepeda did the best that they could and that no human being could have said what they said better. "Nappy Hair" is a beautiful success story of a book.
My uncle, who is now deceased, used to talk about my hair all of the time.This book reminded me so much of his lectures. I was reminded of when he would come over for Sunday dinner and tell stories of how he and my daddy and all of there other 11 brothers and sisters would sit around and tell old stories. It was also a reminder of the fact that he used to constantly preach to me about spending my $25.00 allowance on getting my hair done every week because I did not want it to be " nappy ". "Your grandmother used to press her hair once a month, twice if she was lucky. Back then we did not worry about how our hair was looking we were concerned with fellowship of our family and friends." He constantly preached these stories to me weekly about how easy it is to forget where we came from. How easy it is to forget the sacrifices that our ancestors made so that we could have a better life than they did. I appreciated these lectures then, but now I appreciate them even more.
I am an adpoted child who has known that I was adopted all my life. Children can be so cruel sometimes and as a result of this I was constantly teased because of it. But as I have grown older and professed a hope in Christ, I have learned that God made me, not just my physical appearance but every aspect of me. He has molded me and shaped me. Everything that I am God has allowed me to be. Not because I am so holy but, because he's God. A God with new mercies everlasting and I am so thankful for it.
People often characterize African-Americans by their nappy hair. This book is just a reinforcement that God made me and God doesn't make junk. Everything he creates is perfect.
We are living in a world now where everyone has to have a hero or a role model. Children are so easily influenced and we as adults oftentimes take that for granted. If we act positively and in a spiritual manner, and we instill values and morals in our childrens minds; then our children we learn that they are truly indeed special. Each one of us are our own individual. We have special traits and characteristics that make us different. That diverse individuality is what makes us all so special and so perfect.
If you have not read this book I highly encourage you to do so. If you put all of your prejudice attributes away and view it as a story of human creation, you can not help but to be truly blessed!