Thursday, November 30, 2017


Thank Goodness for Poetry Friday! Three cheers for hosts Franki and Mary Lee for hosting this week’s celebration (click on the purple banner below to enjoy lots more).

Last week, as I finished making PF rounds I had a different idea of what I wanted to share this week. Then, on Tuesday morning I saw this:

Margaret had some thoughts on a soon to be released story in poems, Can I Touch Your Hair? by Irene Latham and Charles Waters (Lerner Jan 1, 2018). Then…..I arrived at school, where a copy I had requested at AASL was in my mailbox. A colleague watched me open the envelope and exclaimed….oh, my gosh…that’s actually happened to me!  I knew I would share Can I Touch Your Hair? this week.

I came home from school Tuesday and read the book. And then, I read the book again slower. Now, you might be ready for me to gush and oooooh and ahhhhhhhhh over Can I Touch Your Hair? That’s coming, I promise. But, I need to share my first impression.

Mind you, my first impression was stubbing its toes on memories of my former self in fifth grade, when I wasn’t nice to C. C. and then in High School when I thought I was funny by flippantly spouting something racist at a sporting event. And….well, I don’t really enjoy telling any more on myself.

See, this book kind of gets ya…. Because, if you are going to get this book, the words and illustrations are going to be windows and mirrors. I’m not always happy with how people in my world see each other or, treat each other….and I’ve certainly had my share of missteps and misunderstandings of those who are different than me (see above).

Can I Touch Your Hair? Addresses race directly….and humanly and poetically. 

Making mistakes is part of Irene and Charles’ story. It’s a story of how two kids who don’t know each other and don’t think that they can become friends figure it out… misunderstandings and all.

Back in September, I saw the pic below on Sara Lewis Holmes’ Facebook page. I love how the questions prompt me to think about a work.

Can I Touch Your Hair? Is a story about two kids last to be picked as buddies forced to partner-up. The other story is learning how to befriend someone you think is too different from you to befriend.

This story makes me feel that understanding is possible….that being human is OK. Understanding starts when I'm open to opportunities. When I look up from my shoes.

Can I Touch Your Hair? is powerful in the way free-verse allows readers to empathize with characters, Irene and Charles. We get to watch them grow--as we grow in our understanding through reading. Yet, pastel illustrations by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko move the story gently. Painted and found-art collage brings each character’s world closer and closer together, giving space for poetry to breathe. 

Irene and Charles’ poems allow readers to see ourselves in their mirror and through a window at their budding friendship.

Can I Touch Your Hair? Is a beautiful work of art and a must read as soon as you can get your hands on a copy. I will award you bonus points if you read it aloud to young people.

I’m so happy that this work is coming into our world soon. I look forward to sharing the joy of this story with lots and lots and lots of people….like me and different.

Many, many congratulations to our Poetry Friday friends, Irene  and Charles.