My Hair Is A Garden (Cozbi A. Cabrera)

Hello, friends! Our book today is My Hair Is A Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera, a lovely and empowering ode to black hair.

Mackenzie has always loved Miss Tillie’s home – a sanctuary as warm and inviting as the woman who inhabits it. So when Mack is humiliated once again for her short, unruly hair, she runs to Miss Tillie for a cry. Mack’s hair has always been especially hard to style – even her own mother doesn’t know what to do with it. Miss Tillie listens sagely, then agrees to teach Mack how to care for her hair. Excited, Mack asks if her hair will one day look like Miss Tillie’s smooth, elaborate style. But using her lush and lovingly-maintained garden as a metaphor, Tillie shows Mack that the style of the hair is not what matters, but that her hair is healthy, well cared-for and, most importantly, loved.

Absolutely. Fantastic. As many women of color can attest, the struggle of having “good hair” – and the social and body-image connotations therewith – starts early on. It’s what makes a book like this so vital: not only does Cabrera give practical tips on caring for black hair (including instructions and recipes in the backmatter), but also provides a affirming encouragement for young girls of color to love and take pride in their hair. This tone is further explored in the gorgeous illustrations that give rich, emotional connections to the text: a vignette of a boy dumping sand in Mack’s hair is heartbreaking, inside covers depicting girls of various skintones and hairstyles are heartwarming, and the cover/inner illustration of Mack’s hair growing healthy, natural, and strong is spellbinding. The length is great and JJ really enjoyed it. A beautiful read for any little bookworm, but a must-read for young girls of color, who will feel seen and celebrated. Baby Bookworm approved!

Black Girl Magic: A Poem (Mahogany L. Browne & Jess X. Snow)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Black Girl Magic: A Poem, written by Mahogany L. Browne and illustrated by Jess X. Snow, a moving tribute to struggles, inner strength, and triumphant spirit of black girls and women.

These are the rules: Don’t wear red lipstick. Don’t wear high heels. Don’t smile in public. Don’t share your opinion. Don’t HAVE an opinion. Carry weaves, families, households, burdens, but never your own dreams or aspirations. These are the rules by which black girls and women are expected to live their lives – but these rules were made to be broken. Follow the example of fierce, intelligent, talented women that came before, and carve your own path. Never let anyone tell you that you are not worthy enough to have what you deserve. You are growing more into a beautiful black woman every day, and you already have within you the most precious of intangibles – Black Girl Magic.

Absolutely gorgeous. The words of Browne’s powerful poem and Snow’s raw, emotional art blend together seamlessly to give an honest, uplifting, and encouraging examination of black girl- and womanhood. The language of the poem is frank, covering both the societal oppression of black women as well as a call to break expectations and limitations. The black, white, red woodcut-inspired art is both intimate and broad, creating a sense of individuality as well as community. The length is great, and JJ and I both enjoyed it, but it’s more than all that. This is a book that should be read to and by little black girls of every age to remind that that the world may be ugly, but they are beautiful, they are worthy, and they are limitless. Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)