Sofia the Dreamer and her Magical Afro
Jessica Wilson and Tom Rawles
Here’s a book that seeks to celebrate diversity and to provide young readers with some insights into the several styles and the cultural significance of afro hair through the daydreams of one girl as her mother styles her hair.
For young Sofia, Sunday afternoon is the time when her mother washes, combs and styles her hair. It’s also the time when she becomes drowsy and drifts away to other places and other times.
First she visits a Rastafarian in Jamaica.
The following week as her mother fashions another style, Sofia travels to Los Angeles where she meets a black panther. “My hair is a symbol of POWER” the woman tells her, “I stand for equal rights, freedom and justice.”
In the third Sunday’s dream Sofia encounters a proud and beautiful woman – an ancestor in Ethiopia with a similar style to her own –
and learns the name ‘canerows’ as they talk among the straight rows of sugarcane being cultivated.
On the fourth Sunday, Sofia is poorly, her hair remains untended but while dozing she learns important lessons about the power of love.
Jessica Wilson’s thoughtful poetic honouring of afro hair presented through magical realism has the perfect complement in talented illustrator Tom Rawles; his stylish paintings – some are truly stunning – beautifully weave together the fantasy threads with a weekly event of Sofia’s life.
With the dearth of BAME books for young audiences, this is a welcome publication that one hopes will find a place in every primary school collection.