Broussard’s debut children’s picture book tells the story of Maci, a young African-American girl, who feels stifled by her everyday ponytails and longs for a new hairdo.
Maci envies her friends’ hair—Ming for her “shiny, black strands that moved in the wind,” Mina for her “winding waves” and Mimi for her “curls that hung in bouncy orange rings.” At bedtime, she confesses to her mother that her own humdrum hairstyle is bringing her down and that she wants to “have hair like [her] friends so that [she] can be beautiful too.” Her mother explains that she should feel good about herself regardless of her hairstyle and that she doesn’t need to have hair like her friends’ to be beautiful. “Maci,” she tells her, “you must always see your beauty.” Since this is the crux of the story’s lesson, the author’s choice of words here might have been catchier, but they do the job. Thankfully, there’s more to the story: When Maci goes to sleep, she dreams of a magic hairbrush that shows her how she would look with each of her friends’ hairstyles. The spells she conjures as she waves her brush have a rhythm and charming absurdity that will likely please a child’s ear: “Werbert, sherbert, wimfram, mate…Give me strands that are black and straight.” By the end of this dreamy exercise, Maci realizes that none of the different styles suit her like they do each of her friends. When her mother surprises her with a trip to the salon the following day, Green’s animated, nuanced illustrations depict this rite of passage in an appropriately celebratory fashion. The story homes in on teaching children about differences in an increasingly multicultural world and offers a timeless message about fostering self-worth.
A charming children’s tale that strikes the right balance between simplicity and creativity.