Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison – Based on the 2020 Oscar Winning Best Animated Short Film [CeCe’s Book Review]

Hair Love

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Published: May 2019
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hair Love is heartwarming and happy, one empowering word and self-affirming image after another. It is the love of a father for his daughter as he builds her up and wraps her with an unshakeable confidence. It is the unfailing adoration of a little girl for her Daddy because she knows that he is willing to give his all for her in this moment and always. It is the love of family as the two welcome Mom home, and it is about the love of your own hair. “Sometimes, love looks like braids, puffs, and twists.”

Thank you Matthew A. Cherry for your heart and your desire to tell this story. I remember the buzz on Twitter as you worked on the short film that this book is based on. I grew immediately excited for the project, especially knowing that Vashti Harrison would be illustrating the characters and because of what it would mean for all of the little girls who would see themselves represented with pride and such care and attention to the versatility of their hair through both the book and the film. We want our children to love their hair and to have access to images of beauty that reflect us.

Hair Love is the book that I needed as a child. The narrative that I grew to believe was that straight hair was good hair. My cousins got their hair straightened with a hot comb. Mine was straightened with a relaxer. When I had my own children, I did what I knew to do. I relaxed my oldest daughter’s hair for a while and my youngest daughter’s only once because at that point we’d transitioned to the idea of hair straightening with a flat iron. We broke up with the chemical processing of our hair (about 7 years ago) and about 2 years ago, both of my girls have been rocking their natural hair. I wish they would have had this book growing up too. When she was a little girl, my youngest daughter would especially hear some of the most ridiculous statements from curious people. Saying things like, “Wow, your hair looks like a lion’s mane…” or “is that all her hair? Is it real?” and my personal least favorite, “Can I touch her hair?” Um, how about no. That lion’s mane comment really stung. It was a moment when my daughter was working through being confident (around the majority crowd at school and at our “diverse” church) about her big, beautiful hair. Take my family’s personal anecdote about our hair journey as you will but for me, it’s a perfect example of why we need a book like Hair Love. Buy it as a gift to give to your family and friends. Add it to your classroom and library collection and make sure to watch the short film that is available on Youtube.

View all my reviews

My Youngest Daughter Angela – Pulchritudinous


Matthew A. Cherry |

Vashti Harrison |

Kokila Books
An Imprint of Penguin Random House

Borrowed from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

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Amazon: Hair Love

You might also like: Sulwe by Lupita Nyongo

Sulwe’s Black is beautiful. Her skin, the color of midnight, is elegant and radiant. Her very name means star and she has what she needs within to let her confident brilliance shine. But it’s difficult to shake off the heavy weight of being called “Blackie” or “Darky” and feeling like maybe she’d be able to make friends if her skin were a lighter tone. Her mom gives her words of encouragement that I hope will inspire every reader, “Real beauty comes from your mind and your heart. It beings with how you see yourself, not how others see you.” Read the full review here.


  1. Christina, I LOVE this book 🙂 Did you happen to catch the amazing short in the theater? I lucked upon it and it was better than the feature! lol SULWE is a stunning book too. It’s a beautiful story, but the artwork REALLY blew me away ❤


    1. No, I didn’t get to see it in the theater but I bet it was awesome on the big screen. I watched it with some of my colleagues and then when I got home, I watched it with my husband too. It was so sweet❤️


  2. I adored Hair Love! And now I need to see if I can find that short on YouTube. I have Sulwe on reserve through our college library, so hopefully it will be ready for pick up this coming week. The covers to both books are so lovely they could be framed! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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