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  • Big Wig: A Little History of Hair
  • Elizabeth Bush
Krull, Kathleen. Big Wig: A Little History of Hair; illus. by Peter Malone. Levine/Scholastic, 2011. 48p. ISBN 978-0-439-67640-3 $18.99 Ad Gr. 3–5.

Krull races through the timeline of civilization, stopping every few millennia, then centuries, then decades to share a tidbit on the state of human hair somewhere on the globe. Beginning with the probability of mutual grooming during the remarkably hirsute prehistoric times in Africa, she moves through the emergence of dreadlocks 5,000 years ago in present-day Nigeria, avocado hair treatments among the Maya 4,000 years ago, samurai topknots from 1200 c.e. Japan, a blond dye job in fifteenth-century Venice, Shirley Temple’s banana curls in 1936 California, and the world’s most expensive haircut (sorry, John Edwards, you don’t even come close) in 2007 England. Each several sentence factoid is flat-out fascinating, as are the coordinated entries, roughly matched by time period at the conclusion of the book. However, with nothing but a general list of sources (several for children), many of the entries beg for verification. How do we know about the emergence of blonds as an evolutionary advantage 11,000 years ago? Who exactly was this woman who converted her vacuum cleaner into the first blow dryer? And please tell us where to find out more about this surgically implanted snap that held on Andy Warhol’s wigs. Still, kids who just come for the pure pleasure of an entertaining browse will be more than delighted by Malone’s inventive paintings, which brashly incorporate clever anachronisms into literal renderings of Krull’s text: hominids under salon dryers, a teddy bear alongside its baby owner in a Mayan head press; a chalk-haired ancient Celt terrifying a bowler-hatted businessman in a pin-striped suit. If veracity is a concern, use this to start an exercise in fact-checking.



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