As a parent of some absolutely multicultural kids, it is rare for a character in a book to look like them and reflect their family. (My husband's mother was from the Dominican Republic and his father's parents were from Canadian with African and Anglo ancestors. My parents are of English and German descent). The result? Boys with curly (and often crazy) hair, blue eyes, tan skin.
Dani Dixon, a talented writer friend of mine (who herself has a comic book series, 13, which is refreshingly diverse) suggested that I needed to check out The Magic Poof written and independently published by Stephen Hodges, a colleague of hers, and Illustrated by T. Kyle Gentry. Stephen happily offered me a copy. The second I saw the cover, I immediately knew why my friend thought of us when she saw his book..it is PERFECT for my boys.
Seriously, a book about an African-American girl who has giant, curly hair that is magic!!! How could the boys not love it?
When I came home with the book, Caterpillar immediately wanted to me to read it to him. I did, and he asked me to read it to him two more times (that makes 3 times in a row -- which is a lot for a not quite 2 year-old who rarely stays attentive for one full read-through of any book).
When I showed it to Wild Thing, he gasped: "She has crazy hair just like me!"
The proof of impact of the book on Wild Thing lies in his actions. Even when I can't read it to him, he likes to just sit and quietly looked through the book, page by page, several times. I see how much he enjoys seeing someone in the pages that reminds him of himself, and I realize how rare that has been for him with most of the children's books we read. In fact, the book inspired him to name his hair too. The name he selected? Dumbo. Perhaps, he envisions his hair making him fly.
What I think makes the book special is the idea of giving a child's unique character trait its own persona, particularly a magical persona. I see how this book could empower any child who looks at themselves and sees something that is different from most of the children they know. Ange-Marie (our lead character) loves her Magic Poof and considers the Poof to be her best friend. This made me smile, as my brother is constantly reminding me that you have to make your insecurities your friend, rather than letting them consume you. Ange-Marie has done that. The biggest drawback for me was that I didn't feel that there was quite enough magic. In the book, we see that the Magic Poof can transform himself into any shape and can float Ange-Marie to the ceiling, but I just wanted more. I envision Ange-Marie becoming some type of superhero with her Magic Poof!! Given that Stephen has additional books planned, as well as an animated series, I am hoping to see a transformation with Ange-Marie becoming an amazing African-American female superhero in the future.
If you're interested in finding more Picture Books with Diverse Characters, What Do We Do All Day recently shared 21 Picture Books with Diverse Characters and Pragmatic Mom has a wonderful Diversity Picture Books post as well. If you have a favorite book featuring a diverse character, please leave me a comment with the title so that I can add it to my library list. And, if you think you'd like to check out The Magic Poof yourself or learn more about the book and author, simply visit themagicpoof.com. I'll also be hosting a sponsored give away of the book soon, so check back or follow me on Facebook to make sure you don't miss it.
Finally, I'd love to know what makes your child unique. How do you celebrate this uniqueness? Please share!
I'm sharing this at: Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop, Mom's Library, The Sunday Showcase and Kid Lit Blog Hop.
Pssst...I thought I'd share a little bit about the author too: Stephen Hodges began his creative career in second grade by recording epic stories with his best friend. His love of storytelling and theater carried him through Arizona State University and into the film industry. One day, while working to help other industry creative types achieve their dreams, Stephen played with his wife's big poof of curly hair at the breakfast table before she'd had her tea. After enough time spent stretching her hair into shapes and giving it a funny voice, he came up with The Magic Poof. Upon vetting his idea with African-American and educational scholars, he set his own dream in motion. Stephen currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their star-in-the making Havanese dog, Buttercup. He is hard at work on the next Magic Poof book and animated series, as well as several other television projects.
Proud to be...
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