By Sihle Nontshokweni & Mathabo Tlali • Illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne$ 17.95
Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner 2021
“An affirmation of Afro hair that speaks to Black girls all over the African diaspora … With a bright color palette of yellow, pink, blue, aqua, and green, this story highlights Wanda’s positive female relationships and role models and helps her understand who she is in a broader cultural context. This story also addresses systemic racism rooted in the apartheid system that lingers today in South African schools. A fine addition to the expanding body of picture books about Afro hair.” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
About this book
An empowering picture book from South Africa about a young girl who overcomes endless teasing
Meet Wanda, with her beautiful head full of hair. She is brave and strong, but she's unhappy because of the endless teasing by the boys at school for her "thorn bush" and "thunderstorm cloud." Through Grandma Makhulu's hair secrets and stories she finds the courage to face her fears and learn to appreciate that her hair is a crown‚ "not a burden‚" and it is something to be proud of. This book is about identity and beauty, celebrating how cultural pride is learned and passed on over generations.Brand: Sihle Nontshokweni
“[T]his book offers an international perspective on acceptance and celebration of different kinds of beauty that could complement similar titles in all collections … It’s hard for eight-year-old Wanda to remember that Mama calls her hair a crown when Sizwe and Thula tease her on the bus and even her teacher demands that she change her ‘cloud’ to a style that’s ‘neat and clean.’ After another stressful day at school, she arrives home tearful and dejected. Fortunately, her grandmother is there with encouragement and practical help. First, she shows Wanda pictures of glamorous Black women with a variety of hairstyles. Then she uses a special comb and styling techniques on Wanda’s hair. Even Sizwe and Thula admit that the results make her look like a queen. Wanda and most of her classmates are Black, but her teacher is shown only in shadow. The colorful illustrations not only depict the story’s events but also express Wanda’s shifting thoughts and emotions that affect her self-image. The back matter explains ‘Intombi mayizithembe’—an African proverb that means, ‘A young girl must always remain confident.’” —School Library Journal
“An affirmation of Afro hair that speaks to Black girls all over the African diaspora … With a bright color palette of yellow, pink, blue, aqua, and green, this story highlights Wanda’s positive female relationships and role models and helps her understand who she is in a broader cultural context. This story also addresses systemic racism rooted in the apartheid system that lingers today in South African schools. A fine addition to the expanding body of picture books about Afro hair.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“Uplifting … Chantelle and Burgen Thorne’s striking illustrations capture intimate scenarios in bright colors. A worthy … celebration of Afro-textured crowns that simultaneously exposes how Black children are sometimes penalized for their textured hair. Ages 4–8.” —Publishers Weekly
“Set in South Africa, this affecting story carries themes of bullying, self-confidence, and familial love that extend beyond geographic borders. Detailed illustrations capture the different textures of characters’ hair and Wanda’s fiercely felt emotions, while the tropical palette of seafoam, mango, and hot pink keeps the tone lifted as Wanda learns to proudly wear her crown.” —Booklist
About the Author
Mathabo Tlali was born and bred in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and has the yearning to understand and engage the thoughts and realities of others through various artistic and digital platforms. A thespian at heart, she is a practitioner who currently engages the form of contemporary performance in order to translate her ideas; writing, directing, physical performance and producing are her key areas of interest. She is currently completing her second undergraduate major in sociology at Rhodes University, after completing her primary major, drama and performance studies. She seeks to explore intersectional ways of connectivity between the past, present and future, more so pertaining to identity politics within the performance and academic space.
Chantelle and Burgen Thorne are internationally published illustrators with over 20 years’ experience in educational publishing. Their focus is picture books for children with several more titles being released internationally this year, because the magic of children’s books is that they’re not just for kids. Avid bookworms themselves, they take great delight in the visual storytelling of picture books, art and text working together, every word and every image adding to the reader’s experience. Both have fond memories of being read to as children and this inspires them to make their illustrations as engaging, honest and relevant to young readers as they possibly can—what a wonderful way to spend one’s working day!