Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review - Crown: an Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James


The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

A fresh cut makes boys fly.

Who doesn't feel just a little bit better about themselves after a fresh new haircut? Barnes captures the feeling perfectly, for young and old. From the crisp lines of the narrator's cut, to the locs and cornrows and intricate designs of the other customers, "Tip that man! Tip that man! It was worth it. It always is."

What I really can't get over is the VOICE. Several books I have read lately inspired a mental accent of some sort while reading it, but this is the first book I have read in a while that took on a completely different voice in my head. I do not know Derrick Barnes and have never heard him speak, but it was definitely his voice reading those words, not mine. It is a true gift to be able to take the reader so far out of their own head and personality in just a few short pages.

James's illustrations do not let the text down. You cannot help but smile back at each of the faces, and leave the book walking with a little extra swagger of your own.

Or, you know, a desperate urge to call whoever does your hair, asap.

*NOTE: This title has been nominated for the Cybils Award, and I am a first round panelist. There are many nominations and six other judges. My opinions should not be construed as a sign of inclusion or exclusion on the final short list.

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