Stella’s Stellar Hair, by Yesenia Moises, (Jan. 2021, Imprint), $18.99, ISBN: 9781250261779
Stella is a little girl with a fabulous head of hair! She wakes up on the morning of the Big Star Little Gala, though, and her hair is just not doing what she wants it to – so her mother sends her off across the solar system to get some hair advice from her aunties on all the different planets, and the sun! Every auntie has their own gorgeous style: twists, braids, buns, all beautiful, but not quite what Stella has in mind. Sun-dwelling Auntie Solana has the best advice of all: “there’s really no such thing as hair not acting right – your hair just wants to be a little more fun today. / And that’s okay. / You don’t have to change a thing. / Just be yourself”. A wonderful celebration of loving oneself, Stella’s Stellar Hair is the definition of Black Joy and Black Girl Magic. The story celebrates the different styles of Black hair, using the back matter to describe the type of atmosphere on each planet and how each hairstyle would be best adapted to it.
Can I have a moment to gush about the vibrant colors? The cartoon artwork is adorable, and the deep colors are just a wonder to look at. The blues and purples that run through most of the book are incredible, and then bright yellows come in to add a glow to the pages, and come together to create a reading experience that kids will return to often. I love this book.
Stella’s Stellar Hair has a starred review from Kirkus.
My Hair, by Hannah Lee/Illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan, (Sept. 2019, Faber & Faber), $16.95, ISBN: 9780571346868
A little girl has a birthday coming up, and wants a new hairstyle to debut. What should she get? This rhyming story follows a girl of color as she explores different hairstyles, observing friends, family, and the ladies at the salon. She mulls over dreadlocks, fades, braids, close-cropped, and wraps and turbans before finally listening to her mother and going with her natural, beautiful afro.
This acclamation of black hair and culture is such a joy to read. The rhyming text is fun and works beautifully with the images: earth-toned, bold, expressive characters and settings abound, and the personality of the images pops off the page. There are pets throughout the story, many sporting dramatic hairstyles (fur styles?) that match their humans. The young girl uses positive, lively words to run through styles she knows: her mother’s dreadlocks are “dazzling”; her uncle’s waves “swirl all over his head”; her aunt’s close-shaved hair is “like the head of a lioness”, and her grandmother “found one [grey hair] years ago and invited them all to stay”.
A positive, upbeat book about hair and community, and a smart add to your picture book collections.
A side note – if you haven’t had a chance to read or see the animated short for Mathew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison’s Hair Love yet, please get the book or see the short (it’s running before Angry Birds 2; I hope other kids’ movies pick it up).