Furqan’s First Flat Top written and illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo
Image description: The cover of a book. On the left is a man seated and leaning into the frame. In the center a little boy sits on a barber’s chair with a cape covering his body. On the right, a barber in a white jacket holds a set of clippers to the boy’s head.
Furquan has always worn his hair short and curly, but one day he decides that he wants to try a new style. He asks his dad to take him to get a flat top. The two venture down to the barbershop where Furqan frets over what the new hairstyle will look like and if it will be too flat. Dad calmly reassures him until Furqan can see the new ‘do and realizes how fresh it looks.
Why is personal hygiene so hard for children? In our house we battle over toothbrushing, showering/bathing, hair brushing, and changing clothes. Battle may be too strong a word, but my kid hates anything that resembles self-care and I don’t think she’s alone in this aversion.
I originally bought this book for the library I worked in, where I was trying very hard to get a lot more diverse literature onto the shelves. It is a a little self-published jewel, funded by a Kickstarter campaign. When the package arrived, beautifully addressed and complete with three stickers of some of the artwork, my daughter wouldn’t let the book go. We’ve read it several times since at her request. I’m going to have to buy another copy for work.
Liu-Turjillo’s watercolor illustrations are as masterful as they are charming. He perfectly captures Furqan’s expressions and body language. Throughout Dad has this gentle, loving expression on his face that perfectly matches his calm reassurance and support. I really think the illustrations are half the appeal here. All the people are so expressive and you know exactly the conversations they’re having just by looking at them. The barbershop is bright and lively and interesting.
Liu-Trujillo also perfectly captures the weird, illogical anxieties kids have over everyday things, like haircuts. Furqan frets that his hair will be flat like a record or a skateboard or a pancake. Those are things kids would come up with and worry about because they’re flat, even though they don’t resemble hair at all. What I initially thought would be a good book for my library about the worry a child feels about changing their look, turned out to be a great book to help my child verbalize her nervousness about a first haircut. I think she likes seeing another child struggling with the idea too and may eventually come around.
One final thing to say, there is a mother mentioned in the text, but she isn’t part of the story. I love seeing and reading books about involved and loving fathers. This is an excellent example of one such story.
A worthwhile addition to any bookshelf, whether or not hair brushing is an issue in your family.