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Reviews for An Ode to the Fresh Cut

by Derrick Barnes

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

How good can a haircut make a person feel? "Magnificent. Flawless. Like royalty." In a powerfully moving tribute to barbershop culture, Barnes (We Could Be Brothers) addresses readers directly-and it's safe to say his audience is primarily boys of color-using hyperbole to boost their confidence and help them recognize their own value. "You came in as a lump of clay," he writes, "a blank canvas, a slab of marble./ But when my man is done with you,/ they'll want to post you up in a museum." Created with thick, forceful daubs of paint, James's luminous portraits reinforce the idea that, when a person looks this good, not even the sky is the limit. Of a man admiring the curving designs newly shaved into his head, the narrator remarks, "Maybe there's a river named after him on Mars. He looks that important." Pride, confidence, and joy radiate from the pages, both in the black and brown faces of men, women, boys, and girls featured in Barnes's majestic paintings, and in writing that celebrates human worth with every syllable. Barbers included: "Tip that man! Tip that man!" Ages 3-8. (Oct.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

K-Gr 3-Rhythmic text describes the feeling of a young African American boy as he gets a "fresh cut" and how a trip to the barbershop changes the way he feels about the world and in turn how the world perceives him. He might just "smash that geography exam" or "rearrange the principal's honor roll" and, of course, the cute girl in class won't be able to keep her eyes off of him. The protagonist spends time looking at black men in chairs next to him and creating vivid stories about their lives: "the dude to the left of you with a faux-hawk.looks presidential.maybe he's the CEO of a tech company." Oil paintings illustrate the intricacies of the haircuts, details in the characters' faces, along with the sense of well-being that is conveyed along the way. While a trip the barbershop is the main story line, the themes of confidence-building, self-esteem, and joy of young black boys are the important takeaways, and the illustrations jump off the page and invite readers to share in the experience. VERDICT A super fun read-aloud, this title is a recommended purchase for all picture book collections.-Kristen Todd-Wurm, Middle Country Public Library, NY Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Barnes (Ruby and the Booker Boys, 2008) playfully tells the story of a black boy getting a haircut at a barbershop. The boy comes in as a blank canvas, but as the haircut starts, Barnes leads the reader into all the things that might happen because of the cut, from passing a geography test, to becoming a star, and even impressing a girl. The other men in the barbershop look important and full of swagger because of their hair, and the barber knows what he's doing and doles out shape-ups and a faux hawk with skill. Colorful images illustrate all of the patrons, including a woman. Barnes mixes fresh and sharp lines with an integral part of the African American experience: maintaining one's hair. Illustrator James deftly uses bright colors including teal and fuchsia, and a colorful galaxy complements Barnes' words well. The strong voice will resonate with readers, soothe any young child scared of their first cut, and give a boost of confidence to the seasoned pros.--Gilfillian, Courtney Copyright 2017 Booklist

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