Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut Book Poster Image
Joyful, foot-tapping celebration of fresh haircut, culture.

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Educational Value

Does a great job of sharing what to expect at a barbershop, capturing the feeling of community. It's also a lesson in positive self-esteem. 

Positive Messages

A fresh cut gives you a feeling of pride and take-on-the-world. The book shows natural hairstyles typically worn by black men and women in a positive light, promotes confidence, and champions culture.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is a positive role model, as are most of the people he encounters in the barbershop. He sees and imagines the positivity rooted in camaraderie and the beauty rooted in the style and experience of getting a fresh cut. "Who knows? You might just smash that geography exam tomorrow and rearrange the entire principal's honor roll. A fresh cut does something to your brain right? It hooks up your intellectual."

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Derrick Barnes' Crown: An Ode to a Fresh Cut is a joyful look at how a good new haircut can change your entire outlook. It won a 2018 Caldecott Honor, Newbery Honor, and Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Honors. With striking, oil-based paintings by Gordon C. James that showcase different hairstyles and personalities, it celebrates black barbershop culture and the transformative effects of a "fresh cut." Readers as young as 3 will be able to follow along and enjoy it as an introduction to the concept of haircuts, and kids 5 and up will understand the sophisticated language and swagger and really get it. Older reluctant readers can read it and not feel embarrassed to be reading a little-kid book -- it's that cool. 

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What's the story?

CROWN: AN ODE TO A FRESH HAIRCUT shows the possibilities are endless once you step into a barbershop. "When it's your turn in the chair, you stand at attention and forget about who you were when you walked through the door." Magic happens, art takes place, and everyone -- boy, man, and woman -- can see and feel the difference when they leave the chair. Who's ready for a fresh cut?

Is it any good?

This fresh picture book delights the senses as the main character describes how a new haircut changes how you feel about yourself and how the world looks at you and what you can do. Visually striking and rhythmically fun, Crown: An Ode to a Fresh Cut captures the excitement and camaraderie of barbershop culture and capitalizes on the pride and confidence of a fresh cut. Author Derrick Barnes and illustrator Gordon C. James give a shot of self-esteem to black boys everywhere. Whether your reader's getting ready for his first haircut or his 20th, this book will definitely become a favorite. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about feeling confident. In Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, a new haircut makes the main character feel on top of the world. What makes you feel good about yourself? Is it a fresh haircut, a new hair ribbon, or a favorite T-shirt?

  • What do you love about you? 

  • Why is diversity in books and media valuable? Why is it important to learn more about the people who are similar to and different from you?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love characters of color and stories of self-esteem

Themes & Topics

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