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TANGLE-KNOT by Loretta Ellsworth


by Loretta Ellsworth ; illustrated by Annabel Tempest

Pub Date: June 6th, 2023
ISBN: 9781645677130
Publisher: Page Street

A young girl has a bird’s-nest ’do.

Fia “refuses to brush her hair,” much to her mom’s consternation. A gray bird soon takes up residence in the White-presenting girl’s scraggly, bushy coiffure. Soon the bird lays eggs—one red, one yellow, and one blue—in Fia’s “tangle-knot nest,” attracting attention, some of it judgmental but most of it encouraging, from others, including a TV crew. Fia takes good care of the nest, refusing to wash her hair in order to keep it safe, and eventually the eggs hatch into red, yellow, and blue birds. When the birds leave, Fia finally decides that it’s time for a new style, to her mother’s relief, and her shorn tangle-knot becomes a tree-bound nest. This could be a very relatable story for any child who hates running a comb through frizzy knots or who longs to have a live-in pet (or four), but the prose gets bogged down by unnecessary dialogue tags and written descriptions that are better shown through the jaunty, energetic illustrations. However, it also raises thought-provoking questions about whether a child of color would receive the same admiration if they showed up to school with an unkempt head of hair, and many children will likely get distracted wondering where the birds go to the bathroom. Fia’s mother presents White; the supporting cast is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fantastical but flawed fairy tale.

(Picture book. 4-7)