Book Review: I Despair of My Hair by Ann-Marie Finn

I Despair of My Hair, Ann-Marie Finn, Yellow Brick Books, 2018

From the publisher: Do you know the feeling when you just can’t do ANYTHING with your hair, no matter how hard you try? Well Alice has that problem every day, but what can she do about it? At the end of the day is it really worth the worry?

A little bit of background:

I have bewildering hair.

It has been the bane of my entire life. It’s not quite curly and not quite straight and it has a big, infuriating cowlick. It looks different every single day, the only constant being that it looks ridiculous.

When I read the title of Ann-Marie Finn’s gorgeous picture book, I Despair of My Hair, I immediately knew this book would speak directly to my soul.

The front cover perfectly encapsulates the expression on my face every time I look in the mirror. The narrator looks bemused and bewildered by the muddle on her head, her hands thrown to the sky in a classic “What am I meant to do with this?” pose.

I know it well.

As soon as I read the first line, I took this book into my heart.

“I despair of my hair. It’s such a silly thing.”

I definitely have silly hair and, apparently, Ann-Marie Finn does, too. Before the book opens, we are told that Ann-Marie has hair that “kind of looks” like the main character. I feel her pain and I really felt for our lovely narrator, as she explores many myriad ways of taming her chaotic mane. I especially empathised with her as she walks down the street with her beautifully-groomed friend, and the hope she must feel when she leaves her house looking “okay”, only for a gust of wind to ruin everything.

I had that exact same feeling of elation and despair this morning.

In the end, our narrator decides it’s not worth worrying about all the hair angst, declaring, “At the end of the day, do I really care?”

It’s a lovely moment, as she realises what a waste of life it is to obsess over something she can’t control, and it’s much more fun to just be happy with what she’s got. I wanted to give her a big hug, as she walks down the street with pride on her face – finally content to just be.

I Despair of My Hair is a gorgeously-illustrated book – vibrant and modern and capturing so much emotion. Ann-Marie Finn illustrated this book as well, and her connection to the character is clear. The design is also lovely, with highly expressive typography playing a major role. It’s a visual feast that children from the very young onward will enjoy exploring.

The rhyme is very well handled and contributes a lovely, bouncy rhythm to the narrative – it feels a bit springy, like our character’s hair!

I adored every aspect of I Despair of My Hair. I wish I’d had a similar book to guide me through my own hair despair when I was a youngster and it still touched me now.

Tomorrow, I’m going to leave the house proud of the strange beast on my head.

Well … I’ll try!

One thought on “Book Review: I Despair of My Hair by Ann-Marie Finn

  1. Louise says:

    Hi Kate
    I used this book as a focus text when we were celebrating Crazy Hair Day as a fundraiser at our school. The book evoked conversations not only about hair but other aspects of ourselves that we ‘despair’ about. The students enjoyed it and loved designing hair styles that were unique. Hope you’re walking proud with your hair!

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