STARRED REVIEW
December 01, 2017

Strut your stuff

By Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Review by

It’s a little ironic to judge Derrick Barnes’ Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by its cover, but this picture book is all about making a good appearance, so why not? The boy on Crown’s cover is beaming with pride—nothing can keep him down. Behold the alchemy of a good haircut on a black boy’s soul.

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It’s a little ironic to judge Derrick Barnes’ Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by its cover, but this picture book is all about making a good appearance, so why not? The boy on Crown’s cover is beaming with pride—nothing can keep him down. Behold the alchemy of a good haircut on a black boy’s soul.

Inspired by his own weekly childhood haircuts by a man named Mr. Tony, Barnes tells a story of a young boy who walks into a barbershop with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and walks out looking and feeling like he can handle anything. Ace that geography exam? Sure! Impress that girl? Absolutely. Rule the world? You know it. This boy’s got it made. A fresh haircut in the barber’s chair is transformative, allowing the boy to see the world as a little less overwhelming and more as a place to belong and be happy.

Positive self-esteem is a fragile commodity among children, especially those from diverse backgrounds. With vibrant illustrations from Gordon C. James, Crown is an extraordinary and fun reminder that embracing your looks and putting your best foot forward are the first steps in tackling anything. Because when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, the sky is the limit.

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Crown

Crown

By Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Agate Bolden
ISBN 9781572842243

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