This companion to Happy Hair (2019) takes the same appreciation for the diversity of black self-expression from the beauty salon to the barbershop.
Branching out from black girl hairstyles, Roe here extends the conversation to consider the multitude of hairstyles for black and brown boys even as readers can infer a wider representation of the gender spectrum, since many of the illustrations come without explicit gender assignments. There’s a legacy of black boys who have been targeted, punished, or criticized for their choice of self-expression, and this book is a needed corrective. Arriving after the much-heralded Crown (2017), this makes space to celebrate a wide range of styles, from cornrows and curls to fro-hawks and flat-tops. Each matte, posterlike portrait is rendered alongside a catchy, empowering quote: “When the stars shine, / the world is mine” highlights a high-top; “A happy boy, / full of joy!” celebrates a step-up. A (rather trite) refrain pulls them all together: “i am born to be AWESOME!” Roe is returning to the series after Superheroes Are Everywhere (2019), her recent bestselling collaboration with Sen. Kamala Harris, undoubtedly bringing a number of new fans with her. For a segment of U.S. readership that is starved for representation that appreciates the unique details and nuances of their style and identity, this steps in to lift up their presence in bright, lively portraiture.
Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood. (Picture book. 3-7)