Book Review: Hair Love
by Matthew A. Cherry, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Target Age Group: Picture Book
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
Book Reviewed by Neoma Nwasike
When you were a little Black girl, growing up, did you embrace your beauty? Did you love the deep richness of your blackness and the uniqueness of your hair? Do you remember playing with every kink and coil that sprouted from your scalp, in a meticulous fashion? Did your hair become your best friend, a companion, that saw you through your best and worst days? If you were anything like the imaginative young Zuri, then the answer is yes! In Matthew Cherry’s children’s book Hair Love, Cherry writes about a “hair-rific” journey that a little girl named Zuri and her dad go on, to turn her hair into something extra special and magical for a big day. Waking up in the morning, her big, messy afro, encompasses around her head like a shining halo, and it is the first thing that Zuri is excited to see and touch. It makes her happy! It makes her confident! It allows her to be her!
She is anything she wants to be, and is free from societal boundaries. With her many different hairstyles, her imagination takes her on endless journeys. With beautiful, beaded braids, she is the prettiest princess in the kingdom, and with two big, afro puffs, placed ever so perfectly on the top of her head, she is a strong, confident superhero. Zuri’s dad is a doting, loving father who has so much love to give, and like a strong vessel, he pours every drop into Zuri’s hair, and with the right amount of patience and hard work, they make the perfect daddy, and daughter team, and turn Zuri’s hair into the picture of perfection.
This is a children’s book like no other. Fulled with so much warmth and love, every page reads like a deceleration of Black beauty, and with the colorful illustrations of Vashti Harrison, Hair Love is brought to life. The bright, effervescent colors that Harrison uses, like orange, blue, and purple, pop through. But at the center of this, is the different, rich hues of brown skin that remain the main focus, as Cherry and Harrison work together to create a book immersed in beauty and power. In just a few pages Cherry writes a “love note” not only to his daughter, but to every Black girl. A love note, that drives home the importance of embracing your unique and unduplicated beauty.
This book is truly a superhero in itself, because it gives power to Black girls, a power that is too many times stolen. With the title Hair Love Cherry is reinforcing the perfection of Black hair, no matter what texture or style it may come in. As Zuri, states in the final moments of the book;
My hair is Mommy, Daddy, and me. It’s hair love!”
This statement becomes a strong sentiment throughout the book, that pushes forth the importance of family, and how a strong family bond, is crucial for a child’s development. “Hair Love”, is more than a title, it’s an expression of Black love. A love that is wrapped up in every coil and kink of a Black girl’s hair. It’s something forever irreplaceable and unmatched.