cover image I Love My Hair!

I Love My Hair!

E. B. Lewis, Natasha Anastasia Tarpley. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-52275-5

In Tarpley's gracefully told story, a young African American heroine celebrates her lovely head of hair as part of her heritage. Each evening, Keyana's mother lovingly combs out her tangles before bed and, when it hurts, Mama assures her that she is very lucky to have such hair ""because it's beautiful and you can wear it in any style you choose."" Lewis's (Creativity; Staying Cool) realistic watercolors take fanciful flight as parent and child describe what can be done with the girl's locks: braids at the top of Keyana's head become hoed rows of vegetables in a field behind her as Mama explains that she can ""plant rows of braids along your scalp, the way we plant seeds in our garden""; and, pictured against the night sky, the child's Afro-styled hair metamorphoses into an image of the earth as she notes that, when she lets it ""go any which-way it pleases,"" her hair surrounds her head ""like a globe."" But the style also has historical importance, for, as her teacher tells her, ""wearing an Afro was a way... to stand up for what they believed."" Together, author and artist impart a reassuring message for all children about the importance of appreciating what they look like as part of who they are. Ages 3-6. (Feb.)