Curls (Ruth Forman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Curls, written by Ruth Forman and illustrated by Geneva Bowers, a celebration of black hair.

Using minimal, free-form text, this “love song” begins with a little girl greeting the day by removing her hair scarf and rejoicing as her mane of curls tumbles free (“shine big, hair love”). Two of her friends, respectively sporting puffs (“up soft, black brown”) and an afro (thick curl, sun crown”), arrive as her mother treats her hair and begins to braid it into cornrows. As a fourth friend in beaded box braids arrives, the girls are shown playing, dancing, and rejoicing in the beauty of their natural hair.

Simple, sweet, and absolutely lovely. Combining Forman’s engaging and impactful text with Bowers’s radiantly joyful illustrations, this title manages an explosion of pride in an economy of words. This makes it a perfect title for all ages of bookworm, from the very young to middle grade (and perhaps even older). The artwork does a nice job of setting up not only different natural and protective styles, but also a variety of skin tones and ages as representative of beauty (note, no boys or young men are to be found in this title, but feature in the author-illustrator duo’s latest title, Glow). JJ loved the artwork, and while we may not be this title’s primary audience, this is a lovely book that shows little ones of all backgrounds that we are all made beautiful just as we are. A sweet gem, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

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

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!