Reviews for Can I touch your hair? : poems of race, mistakes, and friendship

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A fresh approach to exploring interracial communication.In an unusual, long-distance collaboration, poets Latham and Waters have crafted a collection of poems that explore the intersection between race and childhood friendships. Each poet reveals his or her individual perspective on shared experiences by imagining their childhood selves existing in the current day of complex racial realities. Their interactions, expressed through poetic verse, navigate the ambiguous and often challenging feelings that children encounter as they grapple with identity and racea process forced on them when they are paired for a classroom poetry project. The story takes readers through school days, interludes with concerned parents, and polarizing peer interactions. In one scene, young Irene, who is white, feels ostracized when she isn't invited to play freeze dance with the black girls on the playground. At the beach, young Charles, who is black, is teased by white kids who wear dreadlocks and cornrows, appropriating the culture of black people, while bullying and spewing hate toward Charles. In between the uncomfortable moments are lighter, universal childhood scenarios, as when Charles asserts his choice to be vegan at a traditional soul-food dinner or when Irene describes the solace she finds in her love of horses. Interracial couple Qualls and Alko contribute graceful illustrations that give the feelings expressed visual form.A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America. (Picture book/poetry. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Classmates Irene (white) and Charles (black) are paired for a poetry-writing project in this clever collection. Each spread contains poems from both their perspectives. As they get to know each other, the poems traverse trickier areas (e.g., slavery, police violence). Acrylic, colored-pencil, and collage illustrations range from ordinary classroom scenes to double-page spreads that visually connect the characters' experiences. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.