Hair Love – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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Title: Hair Love

Author: Matthew A. Cherry

Illustrator: Vashti Harrison

Publisher: Kokila, 2019

Ages: 4-7

Themes: African American hair, hair, dads, dads doing hair, black history month, oscar for short film, gender roles, black hair, #hairlove, #representationmatters


My name is Zuri and I have hair that has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way.


When mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to do his daughter’s hair in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters from former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestseller Vashti Harrison.

Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When mommy does Zuri’s hair, she feels like a superhero. But when mommy is away, it’s up to daddy to step in! And even though daddy has a lot to learn, he LOVES his Zuri. And he’ll do anything to make her—and her hair—happy. (publisher)

Why I like this book:

Good for Matthew Cherry, former NFL football player, whose animated version of this picture book was just awarded Best Animated Short, at the 2020 Academy Awards! I had fortunately borrowed the book from the library and written the review just the week before the Oscars as I am sure hundreds have it on hold now.

Finally we are seeing modern Black representation about everyday families. This is more than Black girl hair. This is family love, gender roles, and celebration of oneself. Every detail…Dad’s hair and tattoo, mom’s head wrap (chemo maybe?) a girl who can have a tea party and also wear a superhero cape, family photos of marriage, graduations, and generational love.

The dreamy swirling art by Vashti Harrison matching the hairstyles is central to this book’s success.


Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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4 Responses to Hair Love – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. I hadn’t seen the film. It’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing it. It answers some questions I had about the book. Hope you’re enjoying DC!

  2. I learned about this book at the Oscars and wanted to read it! I absolutely loved the short film you shared. It is so important that a topic about dad’s doing their daughter’s hair is featured in a book. The novel I reviewed For Girls Like Me, also dealt with a white adoptive mother trying to do her black daughter’s hair — and how the daughter finally demanded to go to a black salon. Excellent post today. We need more representation like this in children’s literature. My husband used to do my daughter’s hair before going to school some mornings.

    • Joanna says:

      I love that Ward did you daughter’s hair. Yes, I have seen so many photos of little girls who identify with this protagonist.

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