Happy Hair celebrates natural hair and emphasizes the versatility and beauty of a girl’s ethnic hair texture. Should a young girl pick up this book, I predict she will experience a boost in her confidence about her hair and her overall beauty (and probably get some new styling ideas!) Each illustration features a different hair style (“Fab Fro,” “Bang-n-Bantu,” and “Wash-n-Go” to name a few) communicates pride and strength in the beauty of the “do.” And, a rhyming caption such as “Cool Vibes, Accessorize!” and “Pom-Pom Puffs Pretty Stuff”, accompanies each style on the adjoining page. Young children will easily remember these encouraging rhymes about their hair long after reading this book!
Although, my eleven year old daughter (whose reaction to books almost always surprises me) read through the book very quickly and treated it much like a hairstyle ideas book—only looking at the pictures and paying little to no attention to the words. When I asked her why she liked the pictures, she responded: “because the styles are cute.” Based on this personal experience, I could argue that Roe gives young readers a vision of the cute styles a girl can create with their own natural ethnic hair.
Young girls who wear their ethnic hair naturally can identify with each girl depicted in Roe’s picture book. For just as each girls’ natural ethnic hair differs from page to page, the girls’ skin colors varies also. Roe’s choice to change shades of skin color from page to page allows little girls along the full spectrum of African Diaspora skin tones and non-Black girls with curly hair to see themselves in this book. Mechal Renee Roe also illustrates the girls’ eyes closed—allowing young readers to identify with the hair and the skin regardless of their eye shape and eye color.
For those who have straight hair, this book exposes readers to the beautiful versatility of ethnic hair. Roe sprinkles princess crowns, star necklaces, sparkly jewelry and plenty of hearts throughout the book. These appealing illustrations leave little room for anything but happy feelings about hair!
Recommendation: Strongly recommended; ages 3+
Reviewer: Jamie Nagy