BOOK REVIEW: WANDA by Sihle Nontshokweni an Mathabo Tlali

“A young girl must always remain confident”. This is what Wanda’s mama says to her all the time. Wanda has a beautiful head of hair that her mum proudly combs every morning but as soon as she leaves the house, no one knows that Wanda rushes to school and makes the big switch from her […]

“A young girl must always remain confident”. This is what Wanda’s mama says to her all the time. Wanda has a beautiful head of hair that her mum proudly combs every morning but as soon as she leaves the house, no one knows that Wanda rushes to school and makes the big switch from her mom’s combing to a different style.   Wanda is teased every day by the boys who call her “Miss Bush” AND she wants to change her hair so that her teacher Mrs Stone won’t give her a black dot on her star chart or call it a bird’s nest!

One day she does not have enough time to do the big switch.  Wanda is scared and Mrs Stones (seeing Wanda’s frightened eyes, asks her sternly to go get an Alice band for her hair from the lost property box).All Wanda thinks is: “My mother says my hair is strong, and beautiful like clouds. I say so too.  I love my hair and one day I will be brave enough to say so”.Wanda goes home after school, feeling hopeless and is warmly welcomed by her Makhulu (grandmother), “arms ready to swallow all the sadness…” Wanda wails and tells her how she does not want her hair, and Makhulu gently reminds her that “You are a queen and your hair IS your crown.” She shares some secrets, stories and pictures of strong, powerful, beautiful women wearing wonderful hairstyles that she has never seen before. Wanda feels happy and knows that just like her Makhulu’s hair and her mother’s hair, her hair is just perfect.

This necessary book, with its powerful words and bright, stunning illustrations is so relative and reminds us to celebrate culture, to believe in yourself and to be kind. And some wonderfully, proudly South African news from Jacana Media, Children’s Books is that the rights for Wanda by Sihle Nontshokweni and Mathabo Tlali, Illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne, were taken by Interlink books for Canada and North America.

Bravo!

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