Allison's Book Bag

Dalia’s Wondrous Hair by Laura Lacamara

Posted on: September 25, 2014

Imagine creating a garden out of one’s unruly hair. With a warm color palette and whimsical writing style, Laura Lacamara creates a gorgeous and magical reading experience in Dalia’s Wondrous Hair. Further enticing the story is the appearance of flowers and animals specific to Cuba.

Each page of Dalia’s Wondrous Hair is a treat. The full-color illustrations of mixed media burst from the page and instantly tantalize one’s eyes. At the same time, the delightful mix of rich oranges, yellows, reds, and greens are soft and pleasing to one’s heart. Then there is the rich language with its subtle alliteration, descriptive adjectives, captivating verbs, and unique similes and metaphors, each of which I’ve given examples of below.
• mama’s cool silken sheet
• cool squishy mud
• idea sprouted inside her
• tall and thick as a Cuban royal palm tree

More than eye candy, Dalia’s Wondrous Hair is also a fantastically imaginative story. Lacamara sets the playful tone in the very first line, wherein she writes: “…. Her hair was unfolding and growing.” From this seemingly innocent phrase, Lacamara weaves a story which rivals any fairy tale for Dalia decides to create something big befitting her tower of hair. She adorns her hair with flora and keeps the flowers in place with mud, an action which her mother reluctantly allows and which suggests something unusual is afoot. The neighbors call Dalia’s hair a mess, and want to hack it with a machete, another idea which lends to the weirdness of the tale. In private, Dalia’s mother hands Dalia a bottle of her moonflower shampoo and suggests it’s time, but Dalia senses “something stirring and unfolding in her hair. By the time the rooster crowed….”

The third feature worthy of note is how Lacamara perfectly blends in her Cuban heritage to enrich a tale which is already enchanting in every regard. For example, Dalia decorates her hair with wild tamarind as well as violet and coontie leaves. On her way home from a marsh, she passes her neighbors who work in a sugar cane field. Bonus features to this bilingual picture book include a guide to creating a garden akin to the one Dalia grows in her hair, as well as a bilingual glossary of select plant and animal species native to the island of Cuba.

Yesterday while visiting with me, a friend of mine picked up Dalia’s Wondrous Hair. Not once did she put the book down. Moreover, oftentimes she broadly smiled at the story. Afterwards, we even chatted about it with glowing praise. Whatever your age, I predict that will be your experience with Dalia’s Wondrous Hair too.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

How would you rate this book?

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