Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

by Derrick Barnes

Other authorsGordon C. James (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2017



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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 turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices.

A fresh cut makes boys fly.

This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth and helps them not only love and accept themselves but also take a giant step toward caring how they present themselves to the world. The fresh cuts. That’s where it all begins.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is a high-spirited, engaging salute to the beautiful, raw, assured humanity of black boys and how they see themselves when they approve of their reflections in the mirror.



Agate Bolden (2017), Edition: Sew, 32 pages


Celebrates the magnificent feeling that comes from walking out of a barber shop with newly-cut hair.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
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 chosen as both a Caldecott and Newbery Honor Book, and it also received a Coretta Scott King honor in both the author and illustrator categories - Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is the first picture-book I have seen that explores the importance of hair and hairy-style for African-American boys. Given that I have seen a number of such titles for African-American girls - the most recent being Sharee Miller's Princess Hair - that makes its appearance most welcome. The fact that it is also a celebration of the barber shop - a significant cultural institution for men and boys in the African-American community - also gives it significance. I really loved the artwork here, finding illustrator Gordon C. James' paintings absolutely beautiful. The first page, with its depiction of the boy and his insouciant smile, is a particular favorite. It's amazing to realize that this is the artist's picture-book debut! I found author Derrick Barnes' text appealing, and thought it had some structural qualities - the way each bit of text ends with a simple, declarative sentence that emphasizes a particularly significant and emotionally resonant point - that perhaps explain why it so impressed the awards committees this year. I don't know if I think it was impressive enough for a Newbery nod, but leaving that aside, this was a wonderful book, one I would recommend to those looking for stories about African-American boys, their hair and their sense of self.
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LibraryThing member thornton37814
This book reminds me I'm getting old. The language is definitely 21st century and is certain to please young African American boys heading off for a haircut. The illustrations are boldly drawn.
LibraryThing member Jenica_Flores
A boy gets a haircut that is so good it makes everyone love him. When you have a nice fresh cut everything is going your way and if you look good you feel good. I would read this to students in 2nd through 5th grade. I would use this book to teach my students about having self-confidence.


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1572842245 / 9781572842243
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