Head Mice: The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair by Kate Bernheimer
THERE ONCE WAS A GIRL WHO WOULDN'T BRUSH HER HAIR. HER HAIR WAS WONDERFUL--BEAR-BROWN AND WAVY.
Following her nightly bath, the girl refuses to brush out her hair, despite her mother's pleas that it is turning into a veritable rats' nest.
"IT'S JUST MY WAY," THE GIRL SAYS.
And as her mother dreads, a mouse takes up residence there in a particularly rat-nesty tangle. And soon his relatives begin to move in, happily making their way through tunnels and burrows in her hair. But the mice are polite, fond of bedtime fairy tales, pleasant to the girl's fortunately hairless doll, Baby, and amuse her with their supply of knock-knock jokes.
At school the kids marvel at the menagerie in her hair, but when her mother refuses to pack lunches for her head mice, the girl gets very hungry sharing her lunch with the rodent horde. And then a committee of her resident mice petition for her to stop taking showers, insisting that they fear drowning. The girl complies, but soon she is dirty, smelly, and still very hungry. Finally her teacher decides that certain steps must be taken:
THE TEACHER SAID, "I AM SORRY, BUT YOU CAN NO LONGER BRING BABY. EACH CHILD MAY HAVE ONLY ONE FRIEND, AND IT APPEARS YOU HAVE 100 MICE IN YOUR HAIR."
Now this is serious. In a choice between Baby and her head-resident mice, it's an easy decision--the mice must be evicted, in Kate Bernheimer's hair-raising fantasy, The Girl Who Wouldn't Brush Her Hair (Schwartz & Wade, 2013). For all kids who have ever run screaming from the hairbrush, this runaway hair tale is sure to strike a familiar note. Artist Jake Parker's hirsute heroine is a doll-like beauty whose luxuriant locks provide for intricate illustrations of mice at leisure in their ample tangles, while his cute Disney-esque mice offset the yuck factor of the girl's unwashed mane. The illustrator even gets the last laugh as the girl emerges from the inevitable shampoo with clean, shining braids while the mice are seen busily setting up residence in another classmate's coiffure.
This is a fine and funny fable of hair hygiene which will pair well with Laurie Halse Anderson's The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, (see my review here) Lee Fox's Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair, or even Bethany Barton's This Monster Needs a Haircut. (see review here).