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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book Review: Melissa Parkington's Beautiful, Beautiful Hair

Author: Pat Brisson
Illustrated by Suzanne Bloom
Interest Level: Ages 4-10

From the Book Jacket: "Spectacular! Gorgeous! Fabulous!" Those are some of the words people use to describe Melissa Parkington's hair, which is long, thick, and so shiny that it seems to sparkle. But Melissa Parkington would like to be known for more than her hair. After all, her hair isn't really an accomplishment. It just grows out of her head. Melissa wants to do something special, something spectacular. but everything she tries doesn't seem to work out the way she plans. Then one day she discovers that she can do something special - with her hair. Pat Brisson's engaging and heartfelt story of a young girl who longs to do something positive in the world features lively illustrations by Suzanne Bloom.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Often times I think about writing a blog post of my top 10 favorite books...which would be extremely difficult because I cherish SO many. However, Melissa Parkington's Beautiful, Beautiful Hair would make the list in a heartbeat. First time I read the story it left me with an incredible warmth. But what really warmed my heart was how the students felt about this story. They were changed because of it.

Melissa Parkington is adored because of her hair. Everywhere she goes this outer beauty is pointed out to her. Even her father says at bedtime, "Good night, my Melissa of the Beautiful, Beautiful Hair." But the constant praise starts to bother her, Melissa would rather be recognized and celebrated for her inner beauty. LOVE IT. It was so powerful to introduce the concept of inner vs outer beauty to the kids. Reminded me of the saying, 'It doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, it matters what's on the inside.' This generation of kiddos doesn't hear that enough.

Melissa's dad complimenting her hair
So Melissa begins a journey to discover her inner beauty. When she receives a compliment for the kindness shown to two younger children she begins to understand her amazing caring nature for others. One day Melissa sees a sign at a beauty salon lookng for people wanting to donate their hair to kids who need wigs. Helping another boy or girl in need is what her heart desires. And guess what....she still feels just as beautiful without her locks. I asked the students, "Do you think she'll regret her good deed?' SHOUTING ERUPTED: "NO!" They got a bit passionate and protective of Melissa's amazing heart.  

 A woman (who looks like she has a lot of outer beauty
going on) can't believe Melissa would want to cut her beautiful hair

The kids love her act of kindness but it was really the last few pages that seemed to steal the show. This time Melissa's dad compliments her differently, "Good night, my Melissa of the Beautiful, Beautiful Heart." Does that not just say it all!!? 

The last lines of the story are SO touching. Sigh.
After we finished the story, we talked about the importance of giving compliments aimed at each other's inner beauty. Then we took the time to do just that. It's pretty amazing hearing kids give such heartfelt authentic compliments to each other. Kids need to hear the message given to us so wonderfully by author Pat Brisson. Take the time to discuss compliments, kindness, and the importance of focusing on inner and not outer beauty. A book written and illustrated so perfectly like this is a rarity.

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