Monday, August 21, 2006

Picture Books - Corn Silk and Black Braids

Corn Silk and Black Braids by Vincent L. Johnson, M.D. and Illustrated by Linda Crockett 2005

It is an age-old thing for girls and women to struggle with their hair. We see what we want our hair to look like, but then when we try to get it to do what we want it as usually defies us and does its own thing. As someone who grew up with straight and very thick auburn hair, I have a great deal of empathy for other girls who struggle with their hair. When I wanted it to look nice and slick during the 70’s I got frizzy. When I wanted curls, I got straight and so forth. Plus, I was the only “red” head in school during my elementary years and well lets be honest kids at that age are just not very nice when someone looks different. The common phrase I heard was “I would rather be dead then red”. Nice, ah.

Well on to the book. The title of this book intrigued me as I went to an almost 80% African-American inter-city public school for several of my elementary school years. I remember a number of my girl classmates that hated their hair. Yet, I was always curious and wondered how cool it must be to have hair that would braid so great. Dr. Johnson takes a true to a girl’s heart subject and puts it in terms most young girls can appreciate. We find that Sarah doesn’t like her hair, but it is made worse when her Mom doesn’t understand how she wants pretty hair. Dr. Johnson does a great job in describing the agony that Sarah endures as her Mom struggles with combing Sarah’s hair out and Sarah’s thoughts as she sees the style she is left with. The story is woven around Sarah’s desire to have different hair and how when her Aunt visits she finds a sympathetic listener. As Sarah’s Aunt spends hours and hours trying style to find one Sarah can live with, the reader and Sarah learn that your self-image comes from deep within and not from how your hair looks. However, as Sarah, her Aunt, and us readers also know that a satisfying hairstyle helps with accepting yourself.

This book definitely addresses “the grass is always greener on the other side” issue and how when you get there you find someone standing look back with the same thought. I am not sure this would appeal to boys at any level, but if you have a young girl struggling with her hair, looks, etc. this would be a book to share.



Post a Comment

<< Home