J.D. and the Great Barber Battle: J.D. the Kid Barber, Book 1
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the pacing, language, illustrations, and spark of the exceptional J.D. and the Great Barber Battle, by J. Dillard and illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts, brings Black barbershops in Mississippi front and center for young readers in a delightful way. Young J.D.'s family is central to the story: he discovers a serious talent for cutting hair after his mom gives him a disastrous haircut, his grandparents' strict rules for behavior and family traditions shape his responses. The way kids tease J.D. could be hard for some sensitive readers, but it's handled well, acknowledging the hurt feelings but not dwelling on them, moving along to J.D.'s great idea. The family's modest financial means are a theme throughout: They live with his grandparents while his mom goes to school, and he can't afford the newest clothes or a haircut at a shop in town. Dillard describes J.D.'s new business, life in Meridian, Mississippi, and all the kids' interests and worries with nuance and depth, making this a book not to be missed.
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What's the Story?
In J.D. AND THE GREAT BARBER BATTLE, young J.D. discovers a talent for cutting hair after his mom gives him a disastrous home haircut the night before his first day of third grade. When he can't take any more teasing from kids at school (and his own sister), he grabs his mom's clippers and works some magic on his own head. His skills become the talk of Meridian, Mississippi, and kids everywhere start coming to his porch for their own J.D. haircuts. But when his work starts a rivalry with the local barbershop, J.D. suggests the best solution he can think of: a battle of the barbers. Can this young entrepreneur take on a second-generation barber?
Is It Any Good?
With fun, engaging dialogue and fantastic descriptions, this book celebrates Black boy joy and makes kids' complex understanding of the world a delight to read. J.D. and the Great Barber Battle is about more than just a rivalry between the established town barber shop and the young whiz kid with the clippers. J.D.'s awareness of his family's financial situation permeates the story but doesn't overwhelm it; he knows he doesn't have money and that his friends do, but readers discover that his friends' more comfortable situation doesn't remove their own worries. The illustrations jump off the page with personality, bringing J.D. and his family, friends, and clippers to life.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the way the kids tease each other in J.D. and the Great Barber Battle. Have you been around this kind of teasing? How did it make you feel?
Have you ever had an idea for a business you'd like to start, either now or in the future?
J.D. doesn't tell his family about some of the things that have been going on. Do you think he made the right decision? What would you have done in his situation?
- Author: J. Dillard
- Illustrator: Akeem S. Roberts
- Genre: For Beginning Readers
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Kokila
- Publication date: February 23, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 8
- Number of pages: 128
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 24, 2021
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