Sunday, December 2, 2018

December's Book of the Month--Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

December’s Book of the Month is the highly lauded CROWN: AN ODE TO THE FRESH CUT, written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James. It’s won a Caldecott Honor, a Newbery Honor, A Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, Exra Jack Keats New Writer Award, Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor, and a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal. Oh, and it also won the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature, along with the accompanying hefty cash prize. Probably some more awards that I don’t know about.

So. What makes this book so special? I have to say that I think it’s the sheer enormity of the HOPE gifted to readers by this young narrator. A trip to the barbershop becomes a portal to the fulfillment of every dream. It’s about confidence—how you’ll leave the shop feeling: “Magnificent. Flawless. Like royalty.” Any problems you had had going in? Solved by the cut, which brings out “the gold medal you.”

And the engaging, infectious voice of this young man who’s ready to take on the world. . .

The author, in an endnote, adds that, in addition to this universal moment of self-esteem "when black and brown boys all over America…hop out of the chair,” a trip to the barbershop is also a time to “become privy to the conversations and company of hardworking black men from all walks of life.” And, it’s an opportunity to understand that you have “a soul that matters.” Because you do.

The painterly illustrations capture the boundless pride and personality of the narrator, as well as all the other characters he mentions.

All the acclaim should help ensure that his terrific story finds its way into the hands of readers who need it most.


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