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Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  4,349 ratings  ·  1,038 reviews
The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades t ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Agate Bolden
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  4,349 ratings  ·  1,038 reviews

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You ever wonder if a book is too good to be true? Publishers are sneaky little devils. They know just how to lure in an unsuspecting reader. Here’s an example: Let’s say you have a picture book on your hands that’s mediocre in some way. At the same time, you know how many people purchase books based on book covers alone. So really, all you have to do is to take the most interesting image in your book and put it on the cover. Problem solved! In fact, so many publishers do this (or turn the image ...more

I like that this is an ode to a haircut. This is about the culture of the barber shop. In big cities, a barber shop is a place to meet people, it looks like. It doesn’t seem to be the same in the salons. There is something about getting a fresh hair do that makes you feel like you shine.

I love the art and how it goes right along with that feeling of being a King, for the story, but women feel like queens after a do as well. The art really makes the kid shine and shows that glow being given off.
Dave Schaafsma
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
My father used to take me with him when he got his hair cut, and he supervised the cutting of my hair; shorter than I wanted, sure to call attention to me I school, in a bad way. “It’ll grow back,” my Mom would assure me through my tears. The barber would use various creams and oils on my neck and hair of which my Dad heartily approved. My father’s favorite hair cream was cheap, I recall, Brylcream, which he used daily to tame and flatten his curly hair, and with which he attempted to tame mine. ...more
Gorgeous, lush artwork with a powerful message about dignity and empowerment. Don't miss the author's note, which describes the importance of neighborhood barbershops for boys of color. ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Beautiful. That first page is amazing—the expression on the boy's face! I love the artwork/portraits throughout. This book is triumphant.

"It's the look your English teacher gives you when she hands you your last test with a bright red 97 slapped on it. It's how your mother looks at you before she calls you beautiful. Flowers are beautiful. Sunrises are beautiful. Being viewed in your mother's eyes as someone that matters—now that's beautiful."
Honestly, while I can and do appreciate both Derrick Barnes' poetic text and Gordon C. James' accompanying illustrations, the fact that I have always and since early childhood at that been rather creeped out by both barbershops and hairdressers and do find going to get my hair cut, styled etc. personally uncomfortable and really not at all enjoyable, not memorable, this has certainly NOT made me all that much (if at all) like Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut as a book in and of itself, as a celebr ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yaaaasssss!!!! Thank you Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James for this book. I’ve read/seen several “hair” books for little black girls, but this is the first time I’ve seen one for boys. While I don’t have one of my own, it hits home for me in different ways. I love this book and the pride and strut of the young boy who eludes confidence when he gets that fresh cut. This book was needed and as usual, I’m sharing with the masses.
Abby Johnson
You can't help but smile when you read this book. Ebullient illustrations and text that bounces right up off the page with excitement and pride. I'm in love with this book. ...more
Erin Entrada Kelly
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Perfect for Black History Month. And also January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Page one is my favorite. That boy looks mischievous in the best way.
Phil J
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
It's okay.

I like the writing, which reads like a long poem about the importance of feeling good about your haircut.

The target audience is clearly African-American boys. For them, it's an amazing book. For anyone else, it's moderately interesting. I don't think it deserved a Newbery Honor.

Fun fact: In the dedication, Barnes nicknames his brother "Nestle Snipes" and that's awesome.
This book is all about self esteem, and how that can be affected by things like haircuts for kids and youth. It reminds me of the saying I've seen the last few years: Blessed are the hair dressers for they bring out beauty in others.

As others have noted, the author's afterword is essential to understanding the need for this book. My first reaction was a haircut???? Why of all subjects would this qualify for both a Newbery and Caldecott honor award? To be honest, I didn't really get it until I r
My lank, mousy hair has never felt more inadequate.
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No wonder this book won every award under the sun. It's beautifully crafted, the layout is gorgeous, and the story, delightful. Who doesn't like getting a new haircut?!? ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
How nice does it feel to walk out of a hair cuttery freshly barbered, your extra fluff sheared off so your scalp can breathe and your follicles relax? It's a sweet sensation whether you go weekly or once a year, a few minutes when you feel rebranded by the work of a professional hairdresser honing your style. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is all about that small euphoria, your fresh look making you feel strong and smart. Almost everyone enjoys a good haircut.

"And sometimes in life, that's all
Roger Royer
This book is fun. I really appreciate the idea and concept of the book and I will have to consider what I can do about finding it a good home here because I really believe it deserves one.

The story of why a new haircut can make a young man feel special is so very true. I speak from experience here. I also understand that sometimes younger people may need something to motivate them to go and try something different. This book might just be it.

The art for this book is better than I expected but no
Brittany Thurman
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot express enough how much this book is needed!
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, 2018
I may be a little bit biased since the author was from Kansas City however I can safely say this was an outstanding picture book. I loved it. It is joyful and empowering and a lot of fun.
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Have many of my cohort have ever wondered what's up with black hair culture? I know I always have. This gorgeous OwnVoices book (and its note) helps me to understand it a little better. Nice mirror for some, window for others. ...more
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the books highlighted at a recent Children's Services training at my library system.

The illustrations in this book are Fantastic. The "history" of the various hairstyles is touched on lightly, but with great sensitivity.

The presenter at the training, Michelle Martin of the U. of Washington, discussed the issue of "dreadlocks" ---- they are NOT a hairstyle, they ARE a lifestyle.

I loved this book so much, that I put it on hold for my hair stylist, she was very grateful that I did.
This made me want to go get a haircut just because it penned the feeling so accurately.
M. Gaffney
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This poetry is fresh! Oh my goodness, I want to read it again right now. And the artwork is beautiful! Read this book!
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a picturebook about the magic transformation that happens at the barbershop.
"A fresh cut makes boys fly."
Derrick Barnes' poem is witty, fun, empowering, and just plain cool.
"He'll drape you like royalty with that cape
to keep the fine hairs off of your neck
and your princely robes.
It's amazing what a tight fade, high/low/bald
does for your confidence:
Dark Caesar."
Gordon C. James' oil illustrations are both realistic and out of this world: the colors, the te
A young African-American boy shares the experience of visiting the barber's shop in this beautifully-illustrated picture-book, highlighting the way that a fresh cut makes him feel. The sense of newness, the feelings of looking good, the way that his "crown" is perceived by those around him, all these are explored, as are the appearances of the older men who are also in the barber shop for a haircut...

A much-honored book - the ALA (American Library Association) recently announced that it was chos
I love this ODE to the black barber. My boys complain every time we take them to the Great Clips because the women there don't "GET" their hair and how it hurts like all get out when they use their clipplers and mow through their hair like its a bad patch of crabgrass. I think it is past time to take them to get their hair cut where they will at least be sort of kind to that head.

This book has great illustrations, vibrant colors that make you feel what's going on. And the narrator's words are wo
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The positive message and vibes is loud and clear in Barnes and James’ picture book. How can you build self esteem and confidence? Sometimes it’s a haircut and all that it entails- being treated like royalty, rubbing elbows with community members, asking what you want for a change. And looking fresh is always best- especially for the ladies.

As some commented, I adore that this is positive- not a book about slavery, social injustice, a broken system- instead it is about a positive experience that
This book about the feeling of importance a preteen black boy gets from the exciting experience of a fresh haircut at the barber shop is so, so beautiful. The illustrations (oil paints, I think) are gorgeous and rich and joyful. The text is simple and meaningful and flows easily. This would be a great readaloud for older kids. The illustrations definitely deserve the large picture book format, and I love that it is a short, sweet book with older kids as the target range. However, picture books f ...more
Viviane Elbee
Great book for fans of haircuts & barbershops.
I really enjoyed the main character’s imagination - he imagines that a customer near him might own land on Saturn and have rivers named after him on Mars.

Also this is a good book if you are seeking diversity reads featuring African American boys and a light-hearted subject matter.

Painted illustrations match this story well.

One kid found the story about a boy’s haircut (and all the things the boy is imagining about haircuts) quite funny. The other
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The illustrations in this book are amazing! I love the impressionistic feel given to the urban barbershop setting. The faces look like they could talk to you.

The story is great, too. It definitely portrays what a young man would feel like after getting a haircut that's more like a work of art.

Good for preschool or older kid storytimes.
Marjorie Ingall
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-4-8
Snazzy art, lively text brimming with voice. Paints a vivid picture of the barbershop and it’s importance; love this little Black kid’s pride in looking good and love how observant he is about everything around him. Feels very ‘90s, in a good way.
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Where I come from, no one dreams of becoming an author.

I didn’t know any famous African American male authors. I didn’t actually meet one until I attended college. I wanted to be a football player, the next Sean Combs, or a rapper; anything that would instantly provide me with the riches I would need to “move my mama off of the block”. I was raised in a single parent household by my mother, the lo

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