A little girl’s very large curls cause chaos in this clunky lesson.
Pink-skinned, rosy-cheeked Clara loves her upward-growing mop of red curls; she even carries her crayons, ruler and sandwich in it. She wishes her ringlets were the “tallest hair in all the world!” Finding a product that promises “Big & Beautiful Hair,” she slathers it on. Clara’s orangey-red, yellow-highlighted curls grow so tall and wide they bleed off the pages. The huge mane makes Clara famous. But now her hair obscures people’s views at school and in a theater; reaching the sky, it blocks airplanes. Clara confesses that she used more hair cream than she had claimed to, and her mother arranges a haircut—though why the haircut required the confession is anybody’s guess, unless tell the truth is another message, on top of be careful what you wish for and don’t let your hairdo bother anyone. Poole’s verse scans poorly—“Little Clara May was very very small. / But what was most extraordinary was her hair was really tall!”—and rhymes don’t always rhyme (trees/pleased; world/curls). The cartoony illustrations are slick and occasionally sloppy: In the theater, four kids face away from the movie screen purely so readers can see their faces.
Skip this; for celebrations of curly splendor, get bell hooks’ Happy to Be Nappy, illustrated by Chris Raschka (1999), and Carolivia Herron’s Nappy Hair, illustrated by Joe Cepeda (1997), instead. (Picture book. 3-6)