Hair: From Moptops to Mohicans, Afros to Cornrows, by Katja Spitzer, (Sept. 2022, Prestel Junior), $14.95, ISBN: 9783791375281
A fun dive into the history of hair and we express ourselves through hairstyles, Hair is filled with facts and cultural profiles and stories behind hair culture, going from wealthy 18th century women whose giant hair styles would be considered a health hazard today, to British punks who made the Native American Mohawk look a hair icon, hair is the easiest way for many people to create an identity. Spitzer looks at the historical and cultural issues around hair: red-haired people were considered to have magical powers because of the rarity of their color hair; Black hair pride, thanks to leaders like Martin Luther King and Angela Davis; Indian women who offer their hair at a temple to receive the gods’ help. Clear, easy-to-read text and fun facts, paired with boldly outlined and bright, retro artwork make this an eclectic add to nonfiction collections. A page at the end asks readers to draw their favorite hairstyle: it will be a good idea to scan and print copies of that page, and ask readers not to draw in the books, if you’re putting this one into circulation.
Originally published in Germany, the German edition of Hair was longlisted for the World Illustrations Award 2021.
I’ll Go and Come Back, by Rajani LaRocca/Illustrated by Sara Palacios, (March 2022, Candlewick Press), $18.99, ISBN: 9781536207170
A young girl named Jyoti visits her family in India, where she experiences some culture shock: it’s so different from home! But she and her grandmother, her Sita Pati, spend time together making sand art, going to the market, and playing games. When she leaves, she doesn’t say goodbye; in India, they say “Poitu varen”: “I’ll go and come back”. When Sita Pati visits Jyoti, she experiences a similar culture shock, but Jyoti is there to play, create, and shop with her. Told in a repeat narrative from Indian and American experiences, I’ll Go and Come Back reminds me of Margaret Chiu Greanias’s Amah Faraway, which I also loved. I enjoy the reverse narrative, where each character swaps roles to become the caregiver and guide to a new culture. Rajani LaRocca creates warmth between Jyoti and Sita Pati, brought to life by Sara Palacios’s gouache and acrylic artwork. Sita Pati and Jyoti holds hands and lean toward each other when they’re together, and readers get a peek into Indian culture, with touchstones like food, public spaces, and clothing. Endpapers look like colorful sari prints. I’ll Go and Come Back is a sweet grandparent-grandchild story that celebrates culture and familial relationships.
I’ll Go and Come Back has a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
My Day with the Panye, by Tami Charles/Illustrated by Sara Palacios, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763697495
In the hills above the Haitian city of Port-au-Prince, a young girl and her mother head to the market together. Fallon, the girl, wants more than anything to wear the large woven basket, called the panye, balanced on her head like her mother does. She watches her mother twist the mouchwa wrap around her head and balance the panye on top, and, walking next to her, begs to try it. Finally, when Maman allows Fallon to try, she realizes that it’s harder than it looks, but it’s worth the feeling of accomplishment! A gorgeous, lyrical story about the poise and tremendous strength of Haitian women, My Day with the Panye is simply wonderful reading. Gouache and digital artwork bring textures and color alive on the pages, with beautiful landscapes and lively street and market scenes. While not in verse, the story reads like a beautiful ode to Haiti and its people, and wearing the panye comes across as a rite of passage: Fallon says that her mother is “tall like an arrow pointing to the clouds” as she walks with her panye, and that other women “…walk like they have gold in their shoes”. To wear the panye is to move gracefully and to be strong, even under its weight: Maman compares this strength to the strength of the Haitian walls, still standing after the 2010 earthquake. An author’s note gives a brief history of the panye and its place in Haitian culture.
Tami Charles is the bestselling author of 2018’s Freedom Soup and All Because You Matter. Sara Palacios is the illustrator of Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border, by Mitali Perkins. My Day with the Panye has a starred review from School Library Journal.
A New Home, by Tania de Regil, (April 2019, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201932
A boy from New York City and a girl from Mexico City are each moving, and nervous about their new home. Readers quickly understand that the kids are swapping places: the boy is moving to Mexico, and the girl, to New York. They voice their worries about everyday things they will miss: an after-school snack on the way home; cheering on a local sports team; having places to play. Optimistically, they also think about the new friends they will meet, and hope they enjoy their new home.
A New Home speaks to kids’ concerns and fears over leaving the familiar and starting over somewhere new, as it reassures those fears by illustrating another child enjoying those same things. The boy from New York stands under a T-Rex skeleton in the American Museum of Natural History as the girl from Mexico City stands in front of the Sun Stone in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, each hoping there will be places for their classes to explore their past. The book touches on some of the challenges of city life, including homelessness and poverty. Back matter provides more information about the places and images that come up in the book; everyday images like hot dog carts and street music all get their moment here. Soft, yet bright illustrations make big city living a little less overwhelming.
A New Home is a good addition to your books about moving. Brightly and Moving.com offer reading lists with further book suggestions. There’s a free, downloadable activity kit available through the publisher.