Poof! R.D. Knighten. 2013. 27 pages. Gembay Books. [Source: personal copy.]
A friend sent this book to me, thinking it would be a great topic for me and my daughter. Poof is a short story that follows a day in the life of Robin, a little girl of color, and her unexpected romp in the rain. When her beautiful braids poof up after a rain storm, she’s upset that her cute hairstyle is no more. Robin talks to her friend Leslie whose own hair became wavy in the rain. Together the two girls compare the benefits of each hair type, coming to an understanding about how the differences have their own pluses and minuses. Later, Robin talks to her own mother about her hair, eventually realizing how her hair texture allows her to be stylish and creative, when she just thought it lost its beauty.
This is the type of book that is very important for young girls, especially of color, to have in their collection. As a mother who identifies as black who is raising a little black girl, I’m hyper-aware of how bone straight hair seems to have a stronghold on society. I’ve often had conversations with her about the differences in hairstyles and textures that she sees, with the aim of having her value what grows out of her head. This book is a great way to highlight how beautiful and versatile anyone’s hair is. I think the dialogue is realistic and can give an unsuspecting parent a good starting place to have conversations about beauty aesthetics with kids.
The book features a simple design. The backgrounds are earth-tones of green and orange which are a nice accompaniment to the focus of the drawings. The girls are featured in face only and different aspects of the story are shown in shadows in the background. The facial illustrations fell short for me because they seemed very elementary and weren’t very eye-catching. However, this is a children’s book, and my young reader enjoyed them. I felt the font was bouncy and fun, which was a good match the way the illustrations were drawn. Overall, it’s not as polished as some other kids’ books I’ve seen, but it isn’t enough to detract from the full package.