November 22, 2017

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Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes | SLJ Review

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redstarBARNES, Derrick. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. illus. by Gordon C. James. 32p. Agate/Bolden. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781572842243.

K-Gr 3 –Rhythmic text describes the feeling of a young African American boy as he gets a “fresh cut” and how a trip to the barbershop changes the way he feels about the world and in turn how the world perceives him. He might just “smash that geography exam” or “rearrange the principal’s honor roll” and, of course, the cute girl in class won’t be able to keep her eyes off of him. The protagonist spends time looking at black men in chairs next to him and creating vivid stories about their lives: “the dude to the left of you with a faux-hawk…looks presidential…maybe he’s the CEO of a tech company.” Oil paintings illustrate the intricacies of the haircuts, details in the characters’ faces, along with the sense of well-being that is conveyed along the way. While a trip the barbershop is the main story line, the themes of confidence-building, self-esteem, and joy of young black boys are the important takeaways, and the illustrations jump off the page and invite readers to share in the experience. VERDICT A super fun read-aloud, this title is a recommended purchase for all picture book collections.–Kristen Todd-Wurm, Middle Country Public Library, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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