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A Star from Kirkus for My Hair is a Book, illustrated by London Ladd

15 Jun 2024

Kirkus has given a starred review to My Hair is a Book (HarperCollins) by Maisha Oso, illustrated  by London Ladd

See the full review below:

“My hair is a book. / Watch me open it, / part it, / take a look.”

So begins this creative homage to the plethora of bold adjectives, nouns, verbs, and nicknames that people of African descent use to describe their hair and hairstyles—descriptors that also apply to books. Like books, hair conveys histories; like books, Black hair has often come under scrutiny or deemed unacceptable. Oso’s metaphors illustrate how Black hair tells the story of those who wear it; hair announces its wearer’s beauty to the world, be it cornrowed, locked, twisted, or curled. The author also nods cleverly and generously to other Black-authored books: Camille Yarbrough and Carole Byard’s Cornrows (1979), Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James’ Crown: Ode to the Fresh Cut (2017), Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson’s The Undefeated (2019), Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo’s I Am Enough (2018), and even Alex Haley’s Roots (1976). Some of Ladd’s stunning acrylic, cut-paper, and tissue paper collage illustrations depict recognizable historical figures such as Shirley Chisholm, Malcolm X, and Madam C.J. Walker (the first American woman millionaire, who made her fortune on Black hair products), while others portray Black kids, cooks, and athletes, all of whom take pride in their hair despite those who might judge them. The Afro pick on the cover, with a Black Power fist protruding from a girl’s capacious updo, sets this book’s unapologetically pro-Black and celebratory tone.

A stellar work that belongs in every collection serving young people. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

My Hair is a Book will be published September 17, 2024. Pre order it here