Review: Josey Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit

Posted May 16, 2022 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Children's Books / 0 Comments

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Review: Josey Johnson’s Hair and the Holy SpiritJosey Johnson's Hair and the Holy Spirit by Esau McCaulley
Illustrator: LaTonya Jackson
Published by InterVarsity Press on May 10, 2022
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Diversity & Multicultural, Juvenile Fiction / Religious / Christian / Social Issues, Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Religion & Faith
Pages: 32
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

When Josey wonders why people are so different, Dad helps her understand that our differences aren't a mistake. In fact, we have many differences because God is creative!

Josie is spending the day with Dad—getting her hair braided at Monique's Beauty Shop, and picking out a new red dress for Sunday. Because Sunday is Pentecost! In the process, she learns to celebrate the differences she sees all around her as part of God's plan for his creation.

Children and the adults who read with them are invited to join Josey as she learns of God's wonderfully diverse design. Also included is a note from the author to encourage further conversation about the content.

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Josey Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit by Esau McCaulley and illustrated by LaTonya Jackson is a beautiful Christian faith-based book. It is the story of a Father explaining to his daughter why God made people different and the blessing of diversity as they prepare to celebrate Pentecost. Author Esau McCaulley is a theologian who also wrote, Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope. (This is on my TBR list!)

In the story, Josey’s father takes her to the hair salon. While there she begins thinking about how her hair is so different from other girls she goes to school with. There are several themes of love and upliftment woven into this wonderful new children’s book through a Christian lens.

Hair Positivity

In the Black community, going to the hair salon is a big deal. Josey ponders the differences between her hair and the hair of the little girls at her school. The scenes in the salon are warm and loving. There is even one illustration of Josey that I wish I could get framed for my daughter.

The Value of Differences

While Josey is getting her hair braided, her father talks to her about the benefits of diversity from a Biblical perspective. He asks her questions like “when God created the world, was there just one kind of fish or thousands?” She recognizes that God made lots of things on Earth different, so she asks her father why.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

He continues to talk to Josey and references Psalms 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (NIV). I love how he uses the scripture to uplift his daughter. The stylist and the entire salon break out into a song of worship after listening to the father -daughter conversation.

What is Pentecost?

The second half of the book is dedicated to Josey’s dad explaining the meaning of Pentecost as they shop for a red dress. He ties the story of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples and giving them the power to speak different languages to remind Josey that all people matter to God. It doesn’t matter what language they speak, what type of hair they have or the color of their skin. The resurrection of Jesus was for everybody.

Learn & Discuss

Josey Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit is a great book to read with children to explore the discussion of differences between people in a positive way. It is also a great way to discuss the celebration and meaning of Pentecost in the Christian church. The observance of Pentecost is on Sunday, June 5 this year.

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