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Review: Big Wig October 17, 2011

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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Kathleen Krull was probably one of the first non-fiction writers I really enjoyed as a kid. Her series of collective biographies (the Lives of… series) gave quirky facts about different famous figures, along with short, compelling overviews of their accomplishments. My interest in many writers and musicians, including Emily Dickinson and Clara Schumann, can be traced back to her books.

Krull’s latest book is a humorous, less in-depth look at various hairstyles throughout history. The title Big Wig and cover art showing various outlandish French hairpieces, are both very eye-catching. Krull takes us from prehistory in Africa through the present day, with a short paragraph of information combined with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek picture by Peter Malone. From the dyed wigs used in Egypt to miraculous cures for baldness, there are plenty of gross-out hair products for kids and interesting tid-bits about famous figures such as Elizabeth I and Shirley Temple. I can see children paging through this book and combing Malone’s paintings for every last tiny detail. I also really appreciated that the book included information about hair from nearly every continent.

While many of the anecdotes presented were funny and interesting, I wanted a little more information about each time period and how hairstyles were a part of the general style and social knowledge of that particular time and place in history. However, this would be a great read-aloud and a good book to engage readers who need short amounts of text. Krull includes ‘hair extension’ notes at the back of the text (some of which were a bit confusing, as I had to turn back to the paragraph they connected to in order to see how the information was relevant) as well as a list of sources.

Big Wig: a little history of hair by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Peter Malone. Published by Scholastic, Inc. 2011.

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