Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut By Derrick Barnes, Illustrated by Gordon C. James (2017) – hardcover
Recommended ages: 4 to 9
Award-winning author Derrick Barnes brings us a poetic ode to the traditional Black barbershop in Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. The text could very easily stand alone as a poem.
You came in as a lump of clay,
a black canvas, a slab of marble.
But when my man is done with you,
they’ll want to post you up in a museum!
That’s my word.
I encourage you to first read the poignant author’s note included at the back before diving into the text. Barnes beautifully encapsulates what this book is really all about:
With this offereing, I wanted to capture that moment when Black and brown boys all over America visit “the shop” and hop out of the chair filled with a higher self-esteem, with self-pride, with confidence, and an overall elevated view of who they are.
And, he says, it all begins with that fresh cut at the barber shop, “the only place in the Black community where a Black boy is ‘tended to’-treated like royalty.” Gordon C. James’ illustrations, done in his signature oil-painting style, delightfully capture the sense of community and comraderie often seen in Black barber shops. There are faces young and old, smiles and laughter, and looks of confidence and pride.
Take-away message: In a Black barber shop, a hair cut is more than just a cut. It’s an experience unlike any other that leaves patrons feeling more confident by making them feel seen, respected, and valued.
TAGS: Black, male lead, black hair, textured hair, hardcover
Also by Derrick Barnes:
The King of Kindgarten