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.)

Don’t Touch My Hair! (Sharee Miller)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller, a fantastic lesson in consent and body autonomy.

Aria has a full head of dark, soft, beautiful curls, and she loves them! Others love them too; the problem is, they love them so much that they always want to touch her hair, even without asking first. Aria HATES this – she tries to dodge their fingers, but no matter what she does or where she goes, someone wants to feel her curls. Even going underwater, or high in a castle tower, or to another planet are no escape – there are still mermaids, dragons, and aliens who don’t respect her space. Finally, Ari learns that to get others to stop, she must stand up for herself: she firmly shouts “Don’t touch my hair!” Then she explains that if someone wants to touch her hair, they must ask first – and she always has the right to refuse. She’s happy walking around town again, now that her friends and neighbors understand her boundaries, and as always, she’s proud of her curls.

LOVE. Teaching important lessons in consent and agency, the ecstatically colorful illustrations and fierce, self-possessed protagonist carry the story through fun and fantastic locations while keeping the core emotions and concepts grounded in reality. One spread that features Aria’s attempts to evade her admirers – surrounded by reaching disembodied hands while she cowers, dodges, and fends then off in turns – perfectly embodies the discomfort, anger, and feeling of being trapped this behavior can create. It’s a wonderful message – not only for curly-haired kids but all children – that others should respect our body autonomy, and that if if something makes you feel uncomfortable, you have a right to say no. The length was great, and JJ loved it. A book for every little one (and big one!) to read, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!