Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 13 May 2021

Hairytales by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Angela Corbin

Full marks to this innovative publishing company who 'believe that when a child connects with a book it can help transcend boundaries, enhance imagination and empower them to believe that anything is possible, and nowhere is this more important than in the black community’. As part of this philosophy they have commissioned a series of board books inspired by three classic stories. I certainly haven’t come across such original interpretations for a long time and it just goes to show that a good story can be reinterpreted over and over. The award winning author brings her lively imagination and skill to bear by choosing exactly the right words aimed at very young readers. The upbeat and colourful illustrations add to the mix and will I am sure be very well received.

Zel let out your Hair

This book is based on the story of Rapunzel who was famously imprisoned by a wicked witch who refused to let her cut her hair. In this version, Zel is a girl with afro hair that takes her Ma forever to braid. We see the familiar long process of greasing and twisting, but then something rather magic starts to happen. Her hair gets so big that it takes over the whole room, then it goes out of the window and into the world!  I liked the way in which her untamed black hair spreads across the pages and how we can follow the text as it goes  ‘over the houses and down through the park’… Once she wakes up and sees her finished hairstyle in the mirror – she looks very relieved and happy.  

Jackson and the Hairstalk

In this version of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, Jackson lives with his widowed father and is sent off to market to sell the cow. When he meets a tired old lady and kindly carries her bags for her he is badly delayed and so she offers to take the cow in exchange for a bowl of red bean soup. His dad is naturally unimpressed but when Jackson eats the soup – his hair begins to grow up and up! It becomes so big that we need to turn the book around and share his astonishment as climbs into the sky above. There is no scary giant at the top of the huge hairstalk but when his dad cuts it down they get a wonderful surprise.

The Puppet who wanted Hair

Pinocchio the puppet is desperate to look like the children who come into the shop. Gerome the toymaker tries to please him by giving him a wide variety of different hairstyles but none of them feel quite right. I liked the repetitive rhythm of this one that will encourage children to join in with the story. He becomes quite sad but will he ever find a style that works for him? Gerome convinces him that he needs to be proud of his distinctive individual looks and they give each other a big hug.

I look forward to sharing and enjoying these special books with young children and perhaps talking about how they differ from the more traditional versions.

 These and many other resources can be ordered direct from the website:

Karen Argent

May 2021