Friday, January 6, 2012

Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman, Illustrations by Dave McKean


Image from Amazon.com
“I don’t mean to stare. Mister, you’ve got crazy hair.”

This book is about a guy with the most festive, dynamic, mysterious, intriguing, crazy hair you’ve ever seen. The story takes you on a journey to discover the amazing wonders inside Mister’s crazy hair. Young Bonnie, armed with a comb, asks Mister about his crazy hair. Mister replies that there are birds, dancers, musicians, pirates, carousel horses, hot air balloons, and more. Bonnie tries to tame Mister’s hair by combing, but she gets pulled into the land of the crazy hair.

The illustrations are done with mixed media and collage with great swirls and swaths of crazy hair everywhere. The brilliant jewel tone colors contrast beautifully with the brown hair. The movement in the illustrations is wonderful and I especially love the spread featuring abstract dancing figures. It’s also fun to watch the image on Bonnie’s t-shirt change from a target to a sun burst to a bear as the story progresses. The rhyming text is full of wonderful words and phrases that I just love rolling around my mouth, “Twisting tangling/ Trails and loops, / Treasure chests / And pirate sloops.” That said most of the words are probably familiar to kids (with the notable exception of the word “Expedition.”). The printed words are in different fonts and sizes throughout.  Just like the crazy hair, these crazy words just can’t be contained and stick out at all angles.

This book is a wonderful addition to a storytime that celebrates diversity because hair is something that varies greatly due to genetics, culture, and geography. Find some pictures or drawings of people with other kinds of crazy hair. After reading the book hold up each example and talk about the different attributes with the kids. What color is the hair? What do you think is hiding in this hair? Is the hair curly or straight? Long or short?

Image from the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog
The story is also a great excuse to break out some yarn crafts.  You can get cheap yarn at a craft store or check out thrift stores, they often have grab bags full of yarn for just a few dollars. I can’t find any good websites that talk about using yarn in collage, but it’s pretty straight forward. Cut the yarn into different lengths and stick it to the paper with glue. Use heavy paper and have wet rags ready for sticky hands.

If your child likes to tie knots, punch holes in a piece of cardboard and have them thread the yarn through and around. If they get industrious, hole punch a few more pieces and connect them together. It’s great for their motor skills and dexterity.

If you’ve got a nice long rainy day inside, you might try making a crazy hair wig. You can braid it all together it like the Weekend Homemaker does, or go nuts with lots of braids, beads, ribbons, etc. This is also a great addition to your dress up box.
 
I had to dig much deeper than I thought I would to find some rhymes or poems about hair. I finally turned up Fuzzy Wuzzy and Bad Hair Day. And there’s something amazingly catchy about the Veggie Tales song, Where is My Hair Brush? 

-Amy

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