Bippity Bop Barbershop
written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2002 (paperback edition, 2009)
Age range: 3-6
A sweet-spirited picture book, Bippity Bop Barbershop follows a young boy and his dad on a big day for the little one, Miles, who's both excited and unsure about his first barbershop haircut. The author briefly stops the story as the pair enters the barbershop, pointing out the the checker players, the men in back excited over a basketball game on TV, and the different cuts that the all-male, all-black clientele sport. The regulars know the father and son, and call out encouragement as they pass, telling Miles to be brave. Miles, though, does not see any hair style that he likes, until he looks again at his father. Yes, that's it—one just like Dad's!
Tarpley clearly views the barbershop as a neighborhood hub and a "sacred space," as she mentions in an author's note up front, and E.B. Lewis's realistic watercolor illustrations bring a down-to-earth beauty to a familiar scene for many men and boys. The last picture, of the tall man and little boy holding hands as they walk down a city street, nicely sums up their close relationship.
A bit wordy for younger preschoolers, Bippity Bop Barbershop would likely work well for four and five year olds, not to mention for their parents and grandparents. I could also see the book used in a first- or second-grade discussion about people in the community.
Side Note: The talented E.B. Lewis is also the illustrator of The Secret World of Walter Anderson, a new picture book biography of the New Orleans-born artist; Colleen Mondor reviewed it at Voices of New Orleans.
Review copy of Bippity Bop Barbershop furnished by the publisher.