Cover image for Can I touch your hair? : poems of race, mistakes, and friendship / Irene Latham & Charles Waters ; illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko.
Can I touch your hair? : poems of race, mistakes, and friendship / Irene Latham & Charles Waters ; illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko.
Publication Information:
Minneapolis : Carolrhoda Books, [2018]

Physical Description:
39 pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
The Poem Project : WRITING PARTNER -- Shoes : SHOPPING WITH DAD -- Hair : STRANDS -- Church : SUNDAY SERVICE -- BEACH DAY : Beach -- The ATHLETE : Horseback Riding -- Playground : FRESH START -- GHOST : Geography -- DINNER CONVERSATION : Best and Worst -- FORGIVENESS : Apology -- OFFICER BRASSARD : News -- PUNISHMENT : Punishment -- SLEEPOVER : Why Aunt Sarah Doesn't Go Downtown after Dark -- The N-BOMB : Piano Lessons -- Bedtime Reading : AUTHOR VISIT -- Quiet Time : BLOOMING FLOWER -- DEAR MRS. VANDENBERG.
Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, present paired poems about topics including family dinners, sports, recess, and much more. This relatable collection explores different experiences of race in America.
Audience/Reading Level:
Interest age level: 8 & up.


Library Branch
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
1 Bob Harkins Branch 811.6 LAT Book Junior Collection
1 Nechako Branch 811.6 LAT Book Junior Collection

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How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don't know each other . . . and they're not sure they want to. Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Two classmates-serving as stand-ins for poets Latham and Waters-reluctantly pair up on a poetry-writing project and reflect on their identities, relationships, and the role race plays in their lives, in more than 30 candid, thought-provoking poems. The students aren't initially close ("She hardly says anything. Plus, she's white," thinks talkative Charles after being assigned to work with Irene), but that soon changes. The children's passions and preoccupations are revealed in poems that explore topics in parallel-new shoes, dinnertime, parental punishments, and police violence, among them-and the racial divisions of the children's churches, communities, and school become clear, too. "I smile when Shonda/ comes over, but she doesn't/ smile back," writes Irene. "You've got/ the whole rest of the playground,/ she says. Can't we/ at least have this corner?" Qualls and Alko (Why Am I Me?) play into the moody, reflective atmosphere in mixed-media collages whose teardrop/budding leaf motif underscores the way that conversation can lead to growth. The poems delicately demonstrate the complexity of identity and the power of communication to build friendships. Ages 8-12. Authors' agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. Illustrators' agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Classmates Irene (white) and Charles (black) are paired for a poetry-writing project in this clever collection. Each spread contains poems from both their perspectives. As they get to know each other, the poems traverse trickier areas (e.g., slavery, police violence). Acrylic, colored-pencil, and collage illustrations range from ordinary classroom scenes to double-page spreads that visually connect the characters' experiences. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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