Bloom (Ruth Forman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Bloom, written by Ruth Forman and illustrated by Talia Skyles, a sweet board book about black girl beauty.

Just like each flower, each female-presenting black child in this garden blooms. No matter their skintone, hair type, hair color, or style, each girl is beautiful. And just like the flowers, they each have their own way of blooming, yet no way is better or more beautiful than the others. After all, the best gardens are filled with flowers of all different shapes and shades. And so, each little difference makes the whole more beautiful, and each unique flower is its own masterpiece.

Lovely. Historically and currently, young black and brown bookworms are inundated by beauty ideals that can be detrimental to their sense of self. Forman and Skyles take these notions and turn them on their head, using simple text and lush illustrations to draw a parallel between diversity in beauty – specifically pertaining to black bodies – and the varied flowers of a springtime garden. It’s a visual metaphor that works extremely well, especially with the inclusion of attributes that are often considered “undesirable,” such as glasses or natural red hair. I wish very much that some of the girls had represented different body types, disabilities, or other presentations of physical diversity (vitiligo, for instance), but this is a great start at assuring young readers that their natural features are unequivocally beautiful. The length is great for a quick read, and JJ enjoyed it very much. Baby Bookworm approved!

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

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.)