BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Brushing Mom’s Hair by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Nicole Wong

BMP_WS_8599_JT.inddThrough a collection of sparse free verse, Cheng captures a family in crisis. Ann, not yet 15, can’t tell her friends that her mother just lost her breasts to cancer. But everyone seems to know already, asking after her mother and bringing chili with beans that Ann won’t eat.

Ann wishes she could just keep dancing or making pots to keep from thinking. Older brother Nick calls in from college while older sister Jane reads poems about turtles to their resting mother. Dad says people “… don’t get over things / that quick” while Ann worries “Maybe / you don’t get over them / ever.” But Ann’s mother will recover … as Ann finds great comfort in brushing her mother’s returning fuzz with a pink toothbrush: “It’s black, Mom, / and thick. / Here, feel this, / curly and soft / like a baby’s / fresh and new.”

Wong’s black and white detailed illustrations are gentle with muted energy. The twirling scarves, the potter’s wheel, the faraway telephone calls capture everyday moments as Ann and her family find their way back to recovery.

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2009



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