Someday I'll write a review for an adult book again. I wonder what it says about me that I feel more comfortable writing a book review about children's books... :)
"Nappy Hair" by Carolivia Herron Backstory: I'd heard of the book because I'd heard of the controversy surrounding it. I randomly saw it in our library and so I picked it up to bring it home. Why: I checked it out because I wanted to read it and see what it was really about. Was it worth the fuss? Was it a good read? I'm pretty interested in caring for my daughter's hair and the inherent controversy/irony in me as a white woman with stick straight hair that I don't know how to style adopting a daughter from Africa with awesome hair that will be more complex than mine but that I want to learn how to style well and to honor the "roots" (pun intended) of the hair tradition. Overview: This story is told by "Uncle Mordecai". It has the narrative of the story interspersed with call-outs from his family, the audience. It starts out as gentle teasing about Brenda, a little girl, and her "willful" hair, how hard it is to comb, the sound it makes when she tries to comb it. The family alternates between encouraging him, teasing, and supporting Brenda. Her works in her success in school, but then goes back to her hair. He talks about how she got her hair and declares that "Her hair was an act of God" and the angels went and talked to God and tried to get him to give her less nappy hair. Uncle Mordecai replied that "God wanted hisself some nappy hair upon the face of the earth" and goes to say how God created her hair so that "nothing they come up with going to straighten this chile's hair". It touches on Africa and slavery, a page each. It goes on to talk about her birth and how her family laughed about her hair, but God looked at her and said, "Well done" and talks more about he is happy with her having "the nappiest hair in the world".
Intended Audience: I've read this book to Peanut twice. He sat through it both times, but it is a long book. I'm also not sure how much he was following along. It's not a book that HE has asked for me to read again. Of course, at this point in his life this book didn't cover anything that was particular salient in his life. I think the topic was a little beyond him, but hey, he did sit and listen so maybe he's quietly contemplating it. :)
My thoughts: I have to say, that it's not my favorite. I did like the message that God created nappy hair on purpose that he likes it and that it should be a point of pride no matter what other people thing about it. I liked the narrative/answer style of writing.I did NOT like all the teasing from her family (maybe I have my own therapy session coming about teasing families), but I thought a little more familial support would have been, even though everything seemed to be done in a loving way. I wasn't crazy about the illustrations. They just didn't do it for me. The exception to that is the page that talks about Africa. It's my favorite picture in the book, but I still think it could be better. Maybe I didn't like it because it looks "too cartoony"? Uncle Mordecai also speaks in what I grew up hearing of as "Black English", which is more accurately known as African American Vernacular English. It didn't exactly roll of my tongue and the only black people that I've ever heard speak like that were older African Americans. I've heard one of the gripes with the book is that that form of language isn't a good representation of black people today. Still, despite some things I didn't like about the book, despite the controversy, I think that the message is solid that God loves black hair.
Score: 3 out of 5 (I'd buy it at a used bookstore, but personally wouldn't buy it new, well, new on sale, I would)