HAPPY HAIR by Mechal Renee Roe


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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A book that pays homage to the versatility of black hair.

A dark-skinned black girl, eyes closed, face forward, greets readers on the cover against a bright yellow background, and she wears a pink bow (die-cut out of the case) in her wavy updo. This is one of many hairstyles featured in the illustrations, designed to help readers appreciate the potential for styling natural Afro hair. “Bomb braids,” “pom-pom puffs” and “‘fro-hawk” (an Afro-styled mohawk) also appear. Like these, most of the hairstyle names incorporate alliteration, making them fun to read aloud. At first glance, readers might think this book is about one girl’s hair—which is possible, given how many styles one head of afrotextured hair can sport—but skin color changes, as do clothes, earrings, and other details that are easily altered, although every girl holds the same face-front, eye-closed position. But the sameness of each face leaves no room for variations in other features such as the eyes, lips, and nose. Hence, young readers might consider this a paper version of the video games that allow changes in hairstyles on a face that has limited or no customizability—which also limits the book’s usefulness as multicultural literature.

The refrain, “I love being me,” offers a worthwhile affirmation, but cookie-cutter faces undermine the message about diversity. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-9848-9554-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2019


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