I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E. B. Lewis.
Little, Brown, and Company, Hachette Book Group, New York, 1998.
Picture book realistic fiction adapted to board book format, 22 pages.
This is the story of one tenderheaded little girl getting her hair done. She talks about a variety of styles and reasons she loves her hair, complete with imaginative metaphors and mother-daughter bonding.
The first-person story begins with hair combing before bed – a tricky process. Mama is always gentle, but sometimes it still hurts.
” ‘Mama, stop!’ I cry when I can’t stand the comb tugging at my hair any longer.” page 5.
Then Mama does stop and reminds her why she is so lucky to have such beautiful hair. She can spin it into a puffy bun or have cornrows. Mama braids her hair and adds beads at the ends. Then our narrator takes over, thinking about her afro style when her hair “surrounds my head, like a globe” and her favorite, two side ponytails. She loves how soft and thick and curly her hair is.
This book is rife with metaphors and similes that would not have meant much to me a few years ago, but now make perfect sense. I see many empowering messages about my own hair in the media, but few accurate representations of the girls’ hair. This is a crucial addition to the market and I’m so happy that it is available as a board book so that Baby can grow up with positive hair messages also.
There’s supposed to be a companion boy’s book by the same team (Bippity Bop Barbershop), but I’m unable to find a board book version.
Being that the book is about hair, and especially imaginative renderings of hairstyles, the artwork here is crucial and Lewis delivers. Every hairstyle is rendered realistically, and the imaginative parts are seamlessly integrated into the hairstyle drawings. It’s clear from the text and pictures how beneficial both an #ownvoices author and illustrator were to this book.
This is in the 2nd to early fourth grade reading level, but could easily be read aloud to younger children. The original text is leveled in third grade but appears to have more pages, so I think this board book version has been altered to be shorter. This board book has a good message for kids from infants on.
Baby has difficulty sitting through the entire book – some pages have multiple paragraphs, although usually only about 5 or 6 sentences. However, he looks at the pictures and turns the pages.
The older kids are willing to read this aloud to him, and we had a nice conversation about metaphors. I asked my beginning reader to point out to me all the places where the narrator is imagining (her hair as a cornfield) versus the places where it is like real life (mom brushing her hair).
100% recommended. I would consider this an absolute must for young girls who are African, African-American, or mixed with this type of hair, and recommended for the rest of us. Beautiful and just very well done.