Cover Image: Frizzy


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Member Reviews

Such a beautiful book that celebrates one's uniqueness and individuality! I love the representation and ode to natural hair. There are many important lessons in this middle-grade graphic novel, which also tackles themes such as internalised racism, bullying, beauty standards and conformity.

Half of the characters (including adults) here are awful, but I loved seeing Marlene standing up for herself. I could feel the protagonist's pain and indignation deeply, and wished her bullies faced consequences for their actions instead of just getting away with an apology... I also enjoyed Marlene's journey of self-acceptance. The tips and advice from her Tia will no doubt help readers navigate similar feelings and situations.

The artwork is stunning and I am in love with the colour palette. All of these combined made Frizzy a vibrant and engaging read that I greatly enjoyed.
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Frizzy follows the character. Marlene, a middle school student learning to accept herself as she is. Marlene has very curly hair that gets frizzy. Her mom takes her to the salon every Sunday to get her hair straightened. But, Marlene HATES going to the salon every Sunday and getting her hair done. It hurts, it’s time consuming, and she doesn’t even like how it looks when it is done, but that is what her mom thinks is the only way Marlene’s hair can be styled to be socially acceptable. Marlene tries to learn how to do her hair with her friend, but it backfires and does not go as planned. Eventually, Marlene gets to spend the night with her cool Tia (aunt) and her Tia shows her how to correctly style and do her kind of curly hair. Through learning how to properly style her hair, Marlene gains the confidence needed to tell her mom how she really feels about going to the salon and getting her hair done while also gaining the confidence to truly be herself. This is a WONDERFUL middle grade novel focused on acceptance and self confidence.
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What an incredible story of accepting yourself, challenging beauty standards, and understanding generational prejudices. Marlene’s Dominican roots have given her curly hair, but also the belief that her curly hair is bad. She spends every Sunday at the hair salon getting her hair straightened because her mother believes that straight hair is more presentable. She begins to challenge her mother, with the help of her best friend and her favorite aunt, who teaches her how to care for her curls. 
This is an important book that will build empathy and hopefully give readers the courage to accept themselves, even when the mixed messages they receive are coming from their own families. I loved the resolution with her mom, the many types of bodies depicted, and the diversity of skin tones even within families.
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I absolutely loved this book, the conversation surrounding hair and how curly hair is seen as wild and unbecoming on young girls.
I love the positivity of the book and I love how our MC learnt to embrace that part of her.
It's a must read book for every young girl and even adult.
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I have recently chosen to write my thesis on graphic novels, which has given me the excuse to devour as my graphic novels as I can and I am SO happy I picked this one up. Frizzy was a short, but powerful graphic novel about a young girl struggling with her hair texture. After spending every week at a hair salon getting her hair straightened, she begins to grow frustrated with the routine. 

The artwork throughout is stunning. The story was stunning. Everything was stunning. I am always impressed by the growing diversity in middle-grade literature. This book really tugged at my heart and I will definitely add this one to my classroom library. 

5/5 Stars
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Marline hates going to the salon, but with "bad hair" it's the only way to make her mom happy. Marline is constantly frustrated at the way she is never allowed to stand up for herself, but she also can't stand being pushed around by family and people at school. Surely there has to be a better way.

This book cleverly points out the ways that racism can be sneaky, leading people to dislike their own racial features. It also gives a beautiful example of how to speak up when something doesn't seem fair. A refreshing reminder that you're not alone and beauty is so much more than other people's opinions. 

Thank you to NetGalley and First Second Books for this ARC. All opinions are my own.
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What a lovely book about embracing natural beauty and fighting anti-Blackness for the middle grade audience. I think this one will fly off the shelves at my library; I can't wait until October!
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Marlene hates the salon but loves making her mom happy and proud. Straightening her hair every week feels like torture and limits her ability to have fun and be a kid, but she has been told she has "bad hair" and that she needs to look presentable to be liked. So, she embarks on a journey to try to feel more like herself in her own skin and avoid the salon.

I didn't know I needed this book, but I needed this book. I wish it had been around when I was in middle school. Having grown up in Puerto Rico with curly hair, I am familiar with Marlene's struggles. I saw myself whenever people would comment about her frizz and insist that her hair was ugly because it was not straight. It has taken me years to feel proud of and love my hair. I think this book could have sped up the process, particularly the little curly hair primer towards the last third of the book. This book handled the concept of anti-Blackness extraordinarily well and in an age-appropriate way.

The one thing I genuinely have issues with this book is the lack of accent marks in Spanish names like "Ramón." Whenever I travel to the U.S., the correct spelling of my name is a constant issue. Accent marks are important and change completely how a name is pronounced. They are part of our heritage.

Nevertheless, this little graphic novel is a gem for middle schoolers. Thank you, Claribel Ortega for writing it, and Rose Bousamra for those gorgeous illustrations of curly hair. I am definitely going to buy it when it comes out soon on October 18.

If by a miracle, Claribel Ortega were to read this review, please know that if you wanted to translate it into Spanish, this curly-haired, Puerto Rican, certified translator would be honored to take the job.
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<a href="" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="Frizzy" src="" /></a><a href="">Frizzy</a> by <a href="">Claribel A. Ortega</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="">5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Marlene looks and sounds just like my cousins with curly hair. They were told so often that they had bad hair, and to see it all writ plainly, and the reasons why which we all suspected... it was very moving. For all the kids who spent so many weekends at the salon, with the planchas, with the relaxers, etc...I think FRIZZY will resonate. I loved the secondary storyline with the Super Amigas. I can't wait til this one comes out to give it as a gift to my primas.<br /><br />FRIZZY is the story we needed as pre-teens to help accept ourselves as beautiful just the way we are.
<a href="">View all my reviews</a>
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JAW DROPPING. STUNNING. ELEGANT. WOW. Frizzy is exactly what Hispanic and Latinx kids need to read to appreciate their hair!!
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Having read this author before, I couldn't wait to read this book. Great story to have in a school, great representation and very important to tell.
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Frizzy is a fantastic exploration of hair positivity and celebrating our differences. As someone with curly afro hair, I could relate to Marlene in more ways than one. This is the kind of book I wish I'd have had when I was younger. 
Frizzy is an uplifting, fun and powerful graphic novel perfect for everyone of all ages. This Own Voices story encourages young girls to accept themselves as they are. The story really came to life with the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. I cannot wait to recommend this in store!
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This is a delightful, quick read that is attractive to graphic novel lovers right now. It is fun and warm with an element of innocence and joy in Marlene’s life.
Even more so it is accessible and has an important deeper meaning.
The themes of hair politics, whether readers have curly hair or not, are universal and start a dialogue about what things like “presentable” and “good hair” truly mean and how a person’s ethnicity can play a role in people’s perceptions around appearances.
Especially important is the own voices piece of the story as the author was inspired to write this book by her Dominican heritage. 
Marlene grows and expresses new thoughts and ideas with the support of her aunt that are essential for all young people: self-acceptance, self-advocacy, & embracing differences.
I will be recommending this book to all of our avid graphic novel readers and especially those who liked Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas, Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo, and Anne of West Philly by Ivy Noelle Weir!
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Very cute and body positive. I can really see this helping preteens struggling with hair positivity! The art is also so cute and the style fits the story so well.  I loved how the hair was illustrated
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This is such a good book. I like all the lessons it touches on. It really lets us feel with the main character Marlene. When Marlene felt overwhelmed and scared I was feeling suffocated with everything that was going wrong for her. 
I love how she has support behind her in her aunt and in her best friend.
I just really loved this book and the art is truly amazing. 
Thank you to netgalley and the first second for letting me read this advanced copy.
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This was such a touching, beautiful graphic novel. The illustrations are absolutely stunning, it was a true feast for the eyes, but the message of the story was also just so beautiful. It's about self-acceptance, and I think it is perfect for the target audience of adolescence, when you're in that stage of life where you feel awkward enough in your body as it is, without having to add feeling uncomfortable with your natural hair on top of that. It was incredibly sweet, while at the same time teaching about anti-Blackness and internalised racism, in a way that is very accessible. I think that this will be such an amazing tool to teach young people about these topics, especially if they don't have their own Tia Ruby to help them in real life. It really just shows the impact that physical beauty standards set by adults can have on children, and I just could not recommend this enough.
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This middle grade graphic novel is a vibrant, sweet, and compelling story about being true to who you are even when there are pressures not to be.  The artwork was awesome and I loved the panels including the main character’s vision of herself as a super hero.  Marlene is a young Dominican girl who has thick, curly hair.  Every week her mother makes her go to the salon to get it straightened so she can look more professional and “look her best”.   Marlene hates every second of it and doesn’t feel like herself with the straight hair.  She goes through a lot to try to figure out how to please her mother, not be bullied, and feel comfortable with herself.  The messaging in this story is so beautiful, and one I think more people need to hear.  Even well intentioned adults who focus too much on physical beauty standards can cause harm in the children around them.
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Graphic Novel
I received an electronic ARC from First Second Books through NetGalley.
Wow! Middle grade readers will identify with Marlene even if they don't face this particular situation. My heart ached for her as she tried so hard to fit into the identity others wanted her to have. For her, this meant constantly battling to keep her hair straight with lengthy salon visits. It meant not learning how to care for her hair in its natural style. Unfortunately, this lead to bullying at school and hiding pieces of herself from her mom. With help and support from her aunt, she learns to care for her hair and find products and a style that works for her curly hair. The three of them - Marlene, her mom, her aunt - work to overcome generations of messages that only one style of hair is "good hair." This message will resonate with readers as they, too, figure out who they are becoming. 
The artwork captures the character expressions and offers a look at what is happening under the surface for each.
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Incredible graphic novel debut from author and artist! Gorgeous, vibrant art captures the sweetness and the pain in this story of a Dominican American family coming to terms with personal grief and inherited racist ideas about beauty. Marlene is an absolute delight — a good kid and talented young artist who is questioning hair politics, growing into her authentic self, and finding the courage to bring others along with her. And three cheers for tia Ruby and her chicken!
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E ARC provided by Netgalley

In this graphic novel, we meet Marlene, whose least favorite thing is to go to the salon once a week with her mother in order to "tame" her curly hair. This involves setting it on rollers and sitting under a dryer until it is straight. Of course, if Marlene goes out in the weather or sweats, her hair reverts to its naturally curly and "frizzy" nature. Her mother, who has "good" hair doesn't like to spend the extra money going back to the salon, so she is often angry with Marlene for ruining her hair. This is especially evident when the two attend a cousin's Quinceanera. Marlene dances and enjoys herself, but gets sweaty in the process, and her mother is not happy with how she looks in the family pictures. After some trouble at school, Marlene complains to her mother that straight hair or braids are not making her happy, and some information about her mother's own relationship with her hair, as well as the family history, comes out. Marlene spends a weekend with her Tía Ruby learning how to care for her curly hair properly and feeling good about her choice.
Strengths: Marlene's struggles with her mother's expectations will ring true with many middle grade readers who might have skirmishes with their own parents about completely different issues. ("Don't put your hand in your pockets. Why is your hair so flat?" is my mother's voice in my head every day.) Marlene also struggles in school with people who don't understand her background, and is also at odds with the sometimes toxic values embraced by some of her family. It's good then, to see Tía Ruby, who is more comfortable in her own skin, and who takes Marlene under her wing. The best part of the book are the detailed instructions on how to care for curly hair. I've been trying to not blow dry my own hair and let it's natural curl come through, and it's not easy, especially since I balk at leave in conditioner and microfiber towels and just want the speed of blow drying! The cover is great, and I think a lot of my readers will see themselves in Marlene's picture. 
Weaknesses: For readers not familiar with Afro-Latin culture, it would have been good to have a little more background information. 
What I really think: This will be popular with fans of graphic novels with cultural connections, like Christmas' Swim Team, Wang's Stargazing, as well as readers who are fond of learning about Latine and Black culture.
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