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Nappy Hair Hardcover – January 7, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3. The title leaves no doubt about the focus of this picture book. At a family picnic, everyone pokes fun at the youngest girl's nappy hair. Devised as a call-and-response dialogue, the interchanges offer explanations and comments on why Brenda's hair is the nappiest, the curliest, the twistiest hair in the family. The answers involve African origins, God's intent, and pride in one's self; e.g., the Lord "looked down on this cute little brown baby girl" and said, "One nap of her hair is the only perfect circle in nature." The slightly exaggerated, colorful illustrations depict hair as wild and woolly as Don King's, and they comically embellish the message. The device of the multi-voiced dialogue, characterized in different type styles and sizes, rhythmically carries an ethnic flavor, but what's missing here is story. It's nice to see such familial unity but there's no strong narrative to reinforce that theme. Because the message is the entire point, the effect is akin to a one-joke book.?Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Ages 5^-9. The cover painting of a little black girl with an impressive if not amazing head of hair will certainly attract attention, but the free-flowing, conversational narrative written in the African-American tradition of call-and-response also exerts a pull. The text touches on such topics as God, family, Africa, slavery, and, of course, hair: "Them some willful intentional naps you got all over your head. Sure enough. Your hair intended to be nappy. Indeed it did." The artwork, too, is energetic. Cepada's vibrant, folk-art-style paintings have a strong sense of color, form, and design. Librarians may want to have this unusual rhythmic book on hand for choral reading during Black History Month. Julie Corsaro

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 3rd edition (January 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679879374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679879374
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,252,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There's nothing like reading a good controversial book before beddy-bye. I decided to check out the infamous "Nappy Hair", once considered so damaging by so few (and yet so vocal). So I flipped through it. Then I read it once. Then I read it twice. Then I tried turning it upside down and reading it from back to front because I just couldn't see how anyone could raise a ruckus over such a great little old story. The fact of the matter is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is a great book. A fun to read tale of accepting one's own self despite physical aspects that some members of society might not approve of. In short, having nappy hair.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! As a 23 year old black feminist, I really enjoyed this book. The term nappy for my generation is not as degrading as people have made it out to be, my hair is nappy, as a child my mother always told me that my hair was nappy and we celebrated it. I believe that we need to teach our children to celebrate diversity. Hair texture is like skin complections it comes in a wide range, yet we are still one people! We as blacks have a probelm celebrating these diversities an in a way we advocate for the shame that plagues the lives of black children. I say to those who hate this book, buy bell hooks book "Happy to be Nappy" it is a classic also! LETS CELEBRATE DIVERSITY! ! ! !
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Format: Hardcover
I have not read a children's book that was as uplifting as this one. Not only is the main character loved by her family but she is a very smart girl. For too long, there as been an association between natural hair and ignorance. I plan to use this book in my classroom and I have shared it in all of my teacher education classes. Nappy is not a bad word, it is just a word.
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By A Customer on April 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read and enjoyed this beautiful story. I have purcahsed several of these books for my younger cousins and friends. The story was first presented to me at church during the Children's period. I laughed and laughed untill I cried. This was such an appropriate place to present such a heart warming story.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I gave my 10-year old daughter a copy of Nappy Hair for Christmas. I had to force her to sit with me and read this book. As an adult, I loved the simple story and the historical context for discussing, yes, nappy hair. My daughter, on the other hand, hated the book on sight. She was turned off by the title, the cover, the interior illustrations, and the references to brown skin. She thought such references were "ignorant" and insulting. She prefers the African-American label for herself. After reading the book, my daughter announced that the book did not make her feel better about her own hair. It made her feel terrible. Disappointed by her reaction, I thought about it long and hard. I realized that today's young woman is having trouble coming to terms with her hair and her African heritage, just I did many years ago. To an adult who has finally come to terms with the immutable facts of her slave heritage, this book is beautiful in its language, its illustrations and its story. To a child, it is an embarrassing, deeply personal,and sometimes overwhelming topic. My daughter finds it too painful a topic to be captured in word and picture form for all the world to see. While the intended purpose of the book is to raise self-esteem, it is unsuccessful because it does not communicate to our youth in a way that he or she is able to accept the message. As a mother and a teacher, I am saddened that my daughter is not ready to read this book. Maybe she will be when she reaches an adult acceptance of herself. This book is to be appreciated more by its adult readers than by its young readers.
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