Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bippity Bop Barbershop Book Review

“Daddy takes his seat in Mr. Seymour’s chair. And when Mr. Seymour asks him how he wants his hair, Daddy says he wants a haircut just like mine. Daddy wants to look like ME!”Bippity Bop Barbershop by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

Community barbershops with their recognizable barbershop pole outside always look so welcoming. They are often center hubs, a place for gathering and social-interaction, mostly for men. They are also great places for father-son bonding experiences. Both my father and brother still go to the village barber in their community. My brother got his first haircut there.

Author Natasha Anastasia Tarpley's book titled Bippity Bop Barbershop highlights a young boy’s first barbershop experience. One Saturday morning, Miles and his father visit Mr. Seymour’s barbershop for Miles’ first haircut. Miles is a little scared so his daddy tells him, “Be brave, Little Man.” After a few tears, Miles courageously sits while Mr. Seymour cuts his hair with a scissors and buzzing clippers and then watches proudly as his father also gets his hair cut in a similar style. They happily walk out of the shop together hand-in-hand, bippity-bopping down the street.

A first hair cut experience can be slightly traumatic for a child, but Bippity Bop Barbershop does a good job (from another child's perspective) in reassuring children that a cut doesn't hurt. Tarpley’s ability to describe an incredibly positive father-son relationship is my favorite aspect of the book. She creates heartwarming, Hallmark-like quality visions in her descriptions, from a warm, fuzzy wake-up scene set at home to men playing checkers in the barbershop. Lewis’ watercolor illustrations are textured in such a way that it almost seems you should be able to feel the coarseness of the hair and the folds in the fabric. The expressions seen on the faces of Miles and his father are remarkably realistic. While the book celebrates traditions and heritage unique to the African-American experience, its appeal is much broader, across all cultures.
Bippity Bop Barbershop, by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Little, Brown Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 2009); 32 pages; ISBN 9780316033824

Related links:
Illustrator E. B. Lewis’ Website
Kulture Kidz Interview with Natasha Anastasia Tarpley

Children’s Books that celebrate the African-American Experience, compiled by Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT