Cover Image: Hair Story

Hair Story

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Member Reviews

This cute rhyming book was definitely what the world needed. I love that it centers around all the different types of hair people have.
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Hair Story by NoNiequa Ramos includes a story about a Black girl and her fabulous hair. The book also explains and shows different types of hair allowing students to see themselves in the book. The book does include some Spanish words. Additionally, there are many descriptive words for young readers to learn. The end finishes with famous individuals who have Africa and background information.
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I loved everything about this picture book celebrating the diversity of hair. The text feels like its dancing as two little girls bond over their fros accompanied by beautiful illustrations, shout-outs to famous men and women with amazing hair such as Frida Kahlo, Colin Kaepernick, and Ceslie Kryst. The book ends with bio snippets of the individuals included, as well as the 'hair story' of the author and the illustrator, and a glossary of terms included throughout. 

A must have for any classroom looking to celebrate the beauty of diversity.
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I'm having a hard time explaining just how much I loved this book, but I'm going to do my best.

First off, Hair Story is own voices written & illustrated, and both the author, NoNieqa Ramos, and the illustrator, Keisha Morris, include their own hair stories at the back of the book, which was a lovely surprise.

Second, do you see these illustrations?

The texture and colors and patterns and perfection of them?  You can see the love in that grandmother's face, the joy in these girl's eyes, and I basically wanted to just post the whole book because I loved so many of the pictures.  Even the sun is smiling in this drawing.  :) I just immediately added all of Morris' other work to my TBR mountain.

Then there's the text, and it's strikingly amazing. Ramos pulls off all sorts of rhyming wizardry  - y'all know how particular I am about rhyme schemes, and this one hit every mark it went for, and more. The more? Adding text in slang, textspeak, AAVE, Spanish, and (according the author's Goodreads comment I just saw when I went to post this review) "Spanglish", in an amalgam of different accents & languages that just blend into a really accurate portrayal of the kind of language all the multilingual kids I know actually speak.  And yes, we count AAVE and slang as languages, and I wrote about why, but I'm going to just quote even more directly from the author, because she says it much better than I did.

"Diversity means including authentic voices; it means writing one's own voice; it means putting these books on shelves and into the hands of children....if we truly want to uplift marginalized voices we cannot say grammatical English is the gold standard in the classroom and in the library and AAVE, Spanglish, and "slang" is only acceptable in the streets or only palatable in narratives of trauma.

Because truly, among many many other things AAVE, Spanglish, and "slang" is the people's poetry. Free verse, what I write, is what I consider the jazz of poetry. It's sometimes unpredictable. There might be a little chaos. It sometimes takes a minute to understand. But that's O.K. We certainly have spent centuries trying to understand the canon of white men. Men in general, really. Sometimes, we have to learn to tune our ears-and tune out our biases--to hear the music.

In fact, including "big words" like "resilience" and "slang" in my book was quite intentional."

And she's 100% right.

I used to teach reading to littles, and I lived & taught in a pretty diverse city. In fact, I once had a kid tell me that I was "ghost white," which is not wrong.  In that kind of environment, I learned very quickly that the kids in my class needed to see themselves in the books we were reading, but 20 years ago, that wasn't as easy as it is today. We managed to find quite a few books with kids of all different cultures and colors, and I'm still proud of the library we managed to put together.  But something that I realize now I mostly overlooked was how the kids in those books spoke.  They didn't speak like the kids in my classroom, and that was a failure on my part. Kids need to hear their own languages in books, just as much as they need to see their own faces and read about their own experiences.  Representation matters, and it matters in ways you/I may not have considered previously.  I'm glad that there are books out there now, like Hair Story, that flow this seamlessly between dialects and descriptions of experiences that kids of often underrepresented cultures and colors will get to experience.

And the way the words are crafted in this book - it's breathtaking, honestly.  From multiple metaphors - I particularly enjoyed "Fingers and rubber bands choreograph. Hairs dance. Jete'. Chasse'. Hooray for braid ballet." - to moving from conversations to thoughts and back again without faltering, this text is definitely poetry.  (And, if you don't happen to speak any of the extra languages included, there's also a handy glossary at the back, including a pronunciation guide.)

But if I've learned anything from all the incredible Black activists and advocates that I follow on social media, it's that hair, and Black hair in particular, is never "just hair."  Now, this is usually in response to some utter nonsense like cultural appropriation of dreads or a child being unable to wear their natural hair to school, but it's also about the central role hair plays in so many cultures, and the positive/negative cultural touchstones that belong to certain communities that include hair. And Hair Story embodies these over and over again.

From the first words of the book, which say "Baby's crown," to the last, "woven glory," each word, sentence, picture and prose of Hair Story means & shows more than what we can see on the page. "strands of strength and loss. Resilience & pride intertwined", Ramos writes, and that double-sided element is evident on every page of the book.  The author celebrates everything here, both ups and downs - the having to sit still forevers, but also the freedom of letting it flow in the wind. And then she gives us a mural full of "Fro-ments in time:" A mural full of famous Black, Afro-Lantix & non-Black Latinx people and their incredible hair too, and later on, little bios and bits and pieces about the people included in the mural, so you can read & learn more about them too.

Because hair is about more than hair, for so many people. And I'm glad to have found this book that illustrates that so beautifully and clearly.

In fact I'm going to tag this with #Uncannon for CBR13Bingo, because it definitely should be taught in schools.

I got my copy through NetGalley, and they tell me #Hair Story by NoNieqa Ramos & Keisha Morris will be available September 7, 2021.
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This book is so adorable, I cant wait until this book comes out I would love to purchase it just to have around.
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While the idea of the story had me excited, I feel it missed the mark. The pictures were engaging but the text left something to be desired. I would love to be able to share this book during story time, but I don't think it work.  Sharing this story with my students would require too much work and essentially take the fun out of our time together.
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A beautiful book about beautiful hair written in verse and some slang? (the wording is not the English I know, but still makes sense thanks to the Glossary in the back of the book.)

My favorite thing about this book is that it shows beautiful hair, princess hair, that is not the plain straight to slightly wavy hair girls like me have - and it shows the process hair goes through to look the way it does.
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I really enjoyed this book. The rhyming was great, and made it fun to read with my toddlers. The illustrations were great, and I plan to read it to my kids again once there is a physical copy available.
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I adored this! Show little girls of all backgrounds to embrace and love their hair. The art was beautiful and so was the story. Will definitely get copies for my nieces.
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This is a beautiful story, told skillfully with many layers of details, and with gorgeous illustrations. I was drawn to the cover and subject matter. I expected to read about the hair of a given character at a given age. I loved that the story went beyond that and incorporated a story of 2 girls growing through several stages of childhood and that it incorporated Puerto Rican culture and black history. I appreciate that the phrase pelo malo was included, and then appreciated that pelo was repeated in combinations with other words: pelo flow, pelo grow, pelo cyclone, pelo-city, etc. The main story would be great for children as young as 3. The additional information at the end would be a great extension for ages 6-9.
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Love this! I love that it's in verse and has all the support for curly hair and has some attitude. My niece is 3 and I know she'd love a book like this since she has tight curls and a diva attitude already.
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Hair Story by NoNieqa Ramos is a wonderful story delightful story of two young girls of different backgrounds who have their own unique, yet familiar hair story. They find friendship through the connection of hair and family history. This book not only shows the beautiful history behind their hair-itage, but it shows some of the common frustrations that come with it that I believe many readers, young and old, will resonate with. The book also shows some great "fro-ments" in our current and modern history. 

Also, Keisha Morris's illustrations give you a modern facelift to the nostalgic feel of Eric Carle's illustrations that just made me happy.

All in all, I found Hair Story to be a pleasant read, and my biracial daughter loved it as well!
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What a beautiful book! Fro-ments; I love it! This book will be handy for many parents to help them teach their children to love their hair. It is such an important identity marker, that I am pleased to see a book about it. The bilingual aspect of this book is something I appreciate as well. I hope to add more bilingual books to my library.
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A book celebrating the hair of young black and Puerto Rican girls. This would be perfect for a young Afro Latina girl as it celebrates both cultures. However, any young girl can enjoy it and there are definitions for the Spanish terms included in a glossary at the end.  The illustrations are beautiful. And vibrant. The poetry style of the book doesn’t follow a satisfying cadence, but it’s still lovely.
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Thank you for a free look at this story. It is a beautiful ode to celebrating your physical differences (namely your hair) and to historical figures with distinct hairstyles. The art in this book is absolutely stunning, made up of collage and natural-feeling elements. Multilingualism is prominent and a pure celebration in this book. I would love this book in my classroom to provide a mirror for many of my students as well as a window for others to learn from. While much of the poetry might go over kids heads, they love rhyming and would glean a lot from this book.
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Hair Story by is a charming and fun picture book by NoNieqa Ramos.  Precio has very curly hair and Rudine’s hair resists flat irons and rollers.  As the two friends play Beauty shop and with a little inspiration from their mothers and others, they discover that their hair contains stories of their past and the possibilities for the future. Keisha Morris created very vibrant and colorful collages for the illustrations. Hair Story would be a fun book to read to a group of children or used to help girls who have issues with their own hair.
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A poetry style book about hair and what it means when it's not as tame as people want it to be. I personally don't love this style of poetry because I find it hard to follow, but overall the book is lovely with great illustrations and hopefully it helps some kids embrace their hair.
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I love that the author includes words from various cultures throughout the book and that there is a glossary at the end of the book.  I would love to see a link to a website for this book where you can hear each word/phrase pronounced correctly.  I thought the fro-ments in time information was great.

The illustrations were colourful and fun and I think kids will enjoy reading this book.
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I must admit that curly hair amazed me for quite some times already. They mesmerized me, seeing how pretty they look. Therefore I picked this book to read as an advanced reader copy.

Though the author did her magic in free-style poems, her intention of writing a powerful message for young kids, mostly black kids and Puerto-ricains kids, is delivered beautifully. You might have curly and difficult-to-tame hairs, but they are beautiful. And being yourself is what make you gorgeous.
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I really liked the concept for Hair Story, but I think the writing style and terminology may be somewhat difficult for children to understand. If the targeted audience is young kids, then there's a lot in this book that will go over their heads. The author uses multiple languages throughout the book, makes references that are hard to understand without specific lived experiences, and tells a poetic story that will probably be best enjoyed by an older age group. There is a glossary at the end (a really big one), but that doesn't really help in the moment when you're reading to kids. Having to stop multiple times throughout the book to explain certain words or phrases really detracts from the overall reading experience (especially since it's written in verse).

Although at times hard to follow, I think Hair Story is a book that will resonate with people from multiple backgrounds, and I believe it gives children a version of themselves not often portrayed in the books that are meant for them. (★★★☆☆)

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

*will add Amazon link once it's live
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