Fuse 8 n’ Kate: I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, ill. E.B. Lewis
Though today you see books about Black hair pride in a lot of the children’s picture books, I credit Natasha Tarpley for creating one of the very first back in 1998. I will also confess that I did consider doing Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron, which came out in 1997, but I don’t think I’m adept enough to tackle the issues that came up when that book hit the marketplace. Instead, Kate and I kvell at the wonder that is E.B. Lewis, discuss realism in picture book literature, and establish that yes, this book was indeed created in the 90s.
A great interview that allows you to recap a lot what we discuss on the show can be found in this interview between Natasha Tarpley and Shondaland called “I Love My Hair” 20 Years Later.
For those of you who didn’t understand my Moxy Fruvous reference, this is the song I meant:
Full credit to E.B. Lewis for how adept he is at showing expressions. Who doesn’t identify with this kid right there? If you have ever had snarls taken from your head, you will feel this.
Lewis is also excellent because in this shot the stray hairs in the book were so realistic that Kate kept trying to brush them off the page.
Amazing! E.B. Lewis even knows how to depict an accurate spinning wheel on the page. Bobbin intact and everything. Looking at it now I do see that nothing is connecting that bobbin to the wheel but I’ll still accept it. It’s heads and tails better than most found in books for kids.
“If I didn’t know it was the 90s before, I sure do now.” Mom jeans and those big white sneakers. Nothing beats ’em.
After watching Summer of Soul recently, this picture took on special significance for me. This is from a section where our main character’s teacher explains that when she was growing up (so she’s the girl in this picture) her parents believed in natural hair. “Wearing an Afro was a way for them to stand up for what they believed, to let the world know that they were proud of who they were and where they came from.” Excellent inclusion!
Kate references the Last Week Tonight episode hosted by John Oliver that discussed a lot of issues we bring up in this podcast. NSFW.
I failed to mention this, but Ms. Tarpley did write a semi-sequel that came out in 2017 called I Love My Haircut. Interestingly, I think it originally came out in 2002 under the name Bippity Bop Barbershop. Clearly they figured the name should tie more closely into her first hit.
Betsy Recommends: 1880 Town
Kate Recommends: Her Salem Witch Bottle
And yes, if you have any baby dolls that you no longer want or need, Kate really and truly wants them. Give us your baby dolls!!
Filed under: Fuse 8 n' Kate
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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