Matthew A. Cherry's collaboration with illustrator Vashti Harrison (Little Leaders), Hair Love, was inspired by Cherry's animated short of the same name created to spotlight the lack of appreciation for African American textured hair in animation. The resulting picture book is an ode to the incredible versatility of African American hair and the charming resilience of a dad dedicated to his daughter.
Zuri is an African American girl who introduces readers to her fabulous hair, which "kinks, coils, and curls every which way." Harrison's dreamy digital artwork showcases Zuri's different styles, including a 'fro that sparkles, intricate braids and afro puffs that look as soft as the curling clouds that border the page. This morning, Zuri wants "a perfect hairstyle" for a big event happening later in the day. " 'Can I help?' " Daddy asks, " 'It'll be a piece of cake.' " This overly optimistic statement kicks off a journey through various hairstyles that, one after another, unfortunately do not work out. When Zuri vetoes a final attempt by her dad to pick out her hair ("Daddy, really?"), he leaves and comes back with... a hat. Zuri, tearfully explaining that she needs the right hair to match this special day, has a eureka moment--with the help of a hair blogger, essential natural hair tools and a determined Daddy sweating bullets, Zuri emerges with the perfect style to impress on this special day.
Although Zuri is the only one who literally wears a cape, both she and her father stand as heroes supporting each other and working together to save the day. Nuanced illustrative touches, like family pictures of graduations and weddings, alongside Daddy's own immaculate locs, paint a larger picture of the connected African American family that lives and loves together in their home. --Breanna McDaniel, reviewer