Joseph Coelho (text), Fiona Lumbers (illustrator), The Hairdo that Got Away, Andersen Press, October 2019, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781783447824
A young boy visits the barber with Dad every month, but after he hears his parents arguing, Dad goes away. As the boy waits for Dad to return, his hair grows longer and gets knotty and tangled, just like his feelings. His mum doesn’t seem to notice him, his friends don’t recognise him and he gets into trouble at school. Finally Dad returns, and the happy family all get a haircut together.
This story provides an insight into one family’s experience of separation. Sometimes parents argue which may lead to a parent leaving. They may or may not return. This is a sensitive topic which Coelho explores using the metaphor of troublesome hair to represent tangled feelings. Caution must be used though; this is definitely a book that needs parental guidance as the father leaves after an argument about the boy’s haircut – children can blame themselves when a parent leaves. And Dad returns after the boy has been naughty. A good opportunity to discuss how sometimes we don’t make good choices when we are angry perhaps. Not every child in this situation will have a happy family reunion, so we need to take care not to give false hope.
The illustrations are lovely, and a gatefold opens to show how much the boy’s hair grows. Recommended for young children and adults to share when appropriate.
Reviewed by Sharon Seymour