and illustrator: Mechal Renee Roe
Cool Cuts aims to assist black boys feel empowered, regardless of how they prefer to wear their natural hair. From a high top to mini twists, each page is crammed with a special hairstyle, motivational phrase, and therefore the affirmation: I was born to be awesome. The author fills the pages with colorful illustrations, each boy looking happy and assured together with his chosen hairstyle. There’s also a companion book for women, Happy Hair.
Both books were originally self-published and born
out of a love of natural hair and embracing your own unique beauty, consistent
with the Penguin Random House website.
Power of Her Pen
4 – 8
Journalist Ethel L. Payne involves life within The Power of Her Pen, during a story made richer with illustrations that illuminate the groundbreaking milestones Payne reached in her own life and history. Author Cline-Ransome highlights moments in Payne’s life that led her to be dubbed the “First Lady of the Black Press.” Payne persevered against racism and have become one among three black journalists granted a White House press pass during the Eisenhower administration, courageously asking the president tough questions on issues that affected black people. She continued this line of questioning with presidents like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon, and Carter.
Payne was already breaking barriers long before she
was questioning presidents from the press pool. She reported on WWII in Japan
and highlighted the stories of black soldiers who fought within the then still-
segregated military. Although Payne, the granddaughter of slaves, had tons
stacked against her, she paved the way for this generation to continue her
James E. Ransome
5 – 9
Freedom Bird happens during slavery in North Carolina. Two siblings, Millicent and John Wheeler, labor within the fields together day in and outing. As they suffer through backbreaking work and therefore the heartbreak of their parents’ being sold away, they’re both inspired by their parents’ dreams of freedom. One day, the siblings cross paths with a bird who can hold the key to their escape. Complete with beautiful illustrations and inspired by African-American folktales, Freedom Bird encourages young readers to hope, even when it seems impossible.