By Carolivia Herron
Illustrated by Joe
Random House Childrens Books
"Nappy Hair" by Carolivia Herron
"Nappy Hair" is a lively, empowering story about Brenda's knotted-up, twisted, nappy hair and how it got to be that way! Told in the African-American "call and response" tradition, this story leaps off the page, along with vibrant illustrations by Joe Cepeda. Winner of a Parenting Reading Magic Award.
* * *
PreSchool-Grade 3. The title leaves no doubt about the focus of this picture book. At a family picnic, everyone pokes fun at the youngest girl's nappy hair. Devised as a call-and-response dialogue, the interchanges offer explanations and comments on why Brenda's hair is the nappiest, the curliest, the twistiest hair in the family. The answers involve African origins, God's intent, and pride in one's self; e.g., the Lord "looked down on this cute little brown baby girl" and said, "One nap of her hair is the only perfect circle in nature." The slightly exaggerated, colorful illustrations depict hair as wild and woolly as Don King's, and they comically embellish the message. The device of the multi-voiced dialogue, characterized in different type styles and sizes, rhythmically carries an ethnic flavor, but what's missing here is story. It's nice to see such familial unity but there's no strong narrative to reinforce that theme. Because the message is the entire point, the effect is akin to a one-joke book. -- Julie Cummins, New York Public Library