Our hair is often considered our crowning glory. The maintenance of it and, indeed, simply talking about its unique qualities has been the inspiration for several new books, including some for children. In the following roundup, Black Issues Book Review looks at a few of these titles.
by Sylviane A Diouf, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, October 2001, Chronicle Books $14.95, ISBN 0-811-82514-0 (ages 4-8) This book tells the tale of a spirited West African girl who yearns fur the day when she is old enough to wear her hair in braids like her big sister: "I dream of braids. Long braids with gold coins and seashells."
Hair Is Sexual
by Barry Fletcher Unity Publishers, Inc., July 2003, $19.95 ISBN 0-974-34550-4 Fletcher writes that "Sex is the most powerful force on earth, and hair is a symbol of its expression." He takes this theory throughout his book and throws in the occasional historical tidbit, as well as important medical findings. Although the book has the look and feel of a glorified hair-care magazine, it's a pleasant enough read. A renowned hairdresser (he has worked with everyone from Maya Angelou to Prince), author (Why Are Black Women Losing Their Hair), as well as a consultant to Essence magazine, Fletcher's book is sprinkled with helpful tips, however, they are often hidden within the text and difficult to find.
Hair Rules: The Ultimate Hair-Care Guide for Women With Kinky, Curly, or Wavy Hair by A. Dickey, Villard Books, May 2003 $13.95, ISBN 0-375-76130-6 The celebrity stylist whose clients include Alicia Keys and Naomi Campbell, as well as Sarah Jessica Parker and Minnie Driver, offers a comprehensive guide for all non-straight hair--from the tightest of curls to the bounciest of waves. He serves up expert advice on how to care for natural hair and also breaks down the options of various types of texturizing, relaxing and coloring. Well written and researched, this book also includes helpful question-and-answer sections in each chapter.
I Love My Hair!
by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Little, Brown and Company, September 2001, $5.95, ISBN 0-316-52375-5 (recently reissued as a board book, infant to preschool level) The book brings every black woman back to the days of silting between Mama's knees to have your hair greased and combed. It also gives little girls a sense of pride about their hair, as the mother details the ways in which her daughter's hair is beautiful: "I can spin your hair into fine, soft yarn ... and weave it into a puffy little bun," she says. "Or I can part your hair into straight lines and plant rows of braids along your scalp, the way we plant seeds in our garden, then wait and watch for them to grow.
Nappyisms: Affirmations for Nappy-Headed People and Wannabes!
by Linda "Mosetta" Jones, Manelock Communications, August 2003, $12.00, ISBN 0-974-16450-X A Dallas-based journalist celebrates natural hair through amusing and witty affirmations and anecdotes, with chapter headings such as "Mosetta's Nappy Headiquette" and "How to Tell If You're in Nap Denial." Jones is the founder of A Nappy Hair Affair, Inc., an association that promotes positive self-image for people of African descent.
Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey: Hairstyle and Hairstories From the Front With Simple, Step-by-Step Instructions on Taking Care of Your Natural Hair
by T'Keyah Crystal Keymah, T'Keyah Keymah, Inc., Fall 2003, $20.00, ISBN 0-971-40210-8 (available through www.tkeyah.com) "This book is a present for all Black women and all others with beautifully tightly curled, coily, kinky or nappy hair," Keymah writes. She offers dozens of styles for natural hair, with photos and carefully explained steps.
Suzanne Rust is a freelance writer in New York City. She is also a contributing editor to BIBR.