Welcome to the
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
By Derrick Barnes
& Illustrated by Gordon C. James
The barbershop is where the magic happens. Boys go in as lumps of clay and, with princely robes draped around their shoulders, a dab of cool shaving cream on their foreheads, and a slow, steady cut, they become royalty. That crisp yet subtle line makes boys sharper, more visible, more aware of every great thing that could happen to them when they look good: lesser grades turn into As; girls take notice; even a mother’s hug gets a little tighter. Everyone notices. A fresh cut makes boys fly. This book is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair.
Gordon C. James
Born in Washington, DC and raised in Fort Washington, MD Gordon C. James has been pursuing an art career ever since attending high school at Suitland Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in Forestville, Maryland. He has a BFA in illustration from School of Visual Arts in New York City. Gordon’s paintings have been featured in International Artist Magazine and his work being part of the Paul R. Jones Collection at the University of Alabama. He brings these same sensibilities to the table when creating his illustrative work. Among Gordon’s accolades are Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honors and a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal. He is also a two-time winner of the prestigious Kirkus Prize.
In this richly illustrated book, pay attention to the wide range of brown skin tones and variety of hair styles and colors. Invite young readers to pick their favorite hairstyle from the book and to share why they like that hairstyle. As Caleb McLaughlin reads about how a fresh cut can make a person look and feel good and important, invite young readers to think about how they feel when their get their own fresh cut.
Shaping Your Own Crown
The crowns on the cover of this book are illustrator Gordon C. James’ nod to Black artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat painted crowns above his portraits to express the greatness of his figures. You are also filled with greatness, and with this activity, you will crown those things within yourself that feel beautiful and powerful.
A Statue of You
Folks walk into the barbershop like “a lump of clay.” Like an artist, the barber transforms their hair or “clay” into a royal sculpture or statue. Using words and phrases from the book like catch your shine, swagger, so fine, boss, gold medal you, magnificent, and flawless, this movement activity invites you to manifest these words in your body. Look at you! You are majestic!
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