This uplifting, body-positive story will empower kids with highly textured hair to take pride in every inch of it.

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MY HAIR IS MAGIC!

If hair could talk, this little brown-skinned girl’s exuberant Afro would have a lot to say.

This picture book’s unnamed first-person protagonist is constantly asked, “Why is your hair so BIG?” To which she answers, “Why isn’t yours?” Centering her own beauty and the uniqueness of her hair, she recounts, in verse, how people touch her hair and ask her other persistent, microaggressive questions. Appearing differently on every page—an accurate reflection of the versatility of highly textured hair—her magical locks are never the same color twice, exhibiting as much verve and life as the wearer does herself. In some illustrations, the little girl’s hair dominates the page; sometimes her coils emit music; sometimes they are composed of stylized, multicolored clouds or resemble rolling ocean waves in blues and greens. Engel’s rich, sometimes surreal illustrations abound with textures and colors—deep purples, royal blues, sunny yellows—that embody the protagonist’s unique personality. The creators’ notes indicate that both Marroquin and Engel have personal connections with hair that attracts a lot of attention. Engel even notes that, in her childhood, school bylaws required straightened hair. An excellent addition to a growing genre.

This uplifting, body-positive story will empower kids with highly textured hair to take pride in every inch of it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-981-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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