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Book Reviews

Bad Hair Does Not Exist/Pelo Malo No Existe: A Review

Bad Hair Does Not Exist/Pelo Malo No Existe! by Sulma Arzu-Brown, illustrated by Isidra Sabio
Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/“Pelo Malo No Existe is a book with an anti-bullying message that reinforces respect for individualism. Hispanic and Black children are exposed to the divisive and bullying term, “bad hair,” within their own communities. The term “bad hair” or “pelo malo” is used to describe hair that is usually of curlier texture or of a thick and coarse density. This is irresponsible and often contributes to a child’s low self – esteem, dividing both communities and families. The book’s purpose is to empower all children by giving them alternate terms to describe their hair, and teaching them the importance of respecting one another’s differences.

For many girls with afro-textured hair, having self-confidence from a young age and seeing positive images related to their hair type is especially significant because it instills a sense of self-pride.  As parents, I believe it’s our job to remind our girls to love their hair the way it is no matter what others may think or say.

It has been a long journey in the African-American and Afro-Latina communities with accepting and embracing naturally curly or kinky hair.  For reasons I will never understand, our hair is tied so closely to self-esteem and self-worth.  That’s why I’m so happy many Black and Afro-Latina women around the world are finally learning to accept and embrace their natural curls and kinks.

I decided to start wearing my hair in its natural state six years ago and haven’t looked back to having chemically relaxed hair since.  This feeling of freedom and empowerment undoubtedly translates to our children.  My three-year old daughter has told me countless times how much she loves her hair.

So when books like Bad Hair Does Not Exist!/“Pelo Malo No Existe that feature curly kids embracing their hair come my way, I’m thrilled to share them with you and my children!

Author Sulma Arzu-Brown is among the slew of women who are pushing the natural hair movement forward with books that embrace natural hair and its beauty.  In an attempt to empower little girls who are Black, Afro-Latina and Garifuna, Author and VP of Operations for New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Sulma Arzu-Brown, and illustrator Isidra Sabio have created this vibrant bilingual children’s book.

Sulma Arzu-Brown grew up hearing the phrase “pelo malo” her whole life. The term, which means “bad hair” refers to naturally thick, curly hair in a non-chemically straightened state. It’s a phrase commonly used in Latin America to refer to Afro-Latina women’s hair in a natural state.

After Sulma’s three year old daughter’s babysitter straightened her daughter’s hair without consulting her, saying that she had “pelo malo,”  Sulma knew she had to take action.  She decided she wanted to teach her daughter different ways to describe her hair so that she would learn to stand up for herself, her sister and educate other girls in the process.  Hence, that was her inspiration to write this book.

The kids and I have read several books about natural hair over the past few years.  This is the first natural hair bilingual children’s book that we’ve read though so it was a treat!  The book features girls with several different types of hair: curly, straight, short, long, dreadlocks, wavy and more.  The phrase, “We don’t have bad hair because bad hair does not exist!” is repeated several times throughout the book in both Spanish and English.

I enjoyed reading this book with the kids.  They loved saying the phrase (or trying to say), “Pero pelo malo no existe!” (Because bad hair does not exist!)  The kids also really seemed to like looking at all of the colorful and cheerful pictures of the beautiful girls.  Of course, I love the overall concept and message of this book which is to love and embrace yourself and others.  The text is simple and repetitive, but I think it drives home the overall affirmative message really well.

This book can be used as:

  • An empowerment tool
  • A self-esteem book
  • A way to introduce your children to bilingual books
  • A call to action book – there are activities in the back of the book that invite older children to draw their hair, their family and friends

Connect with Sulma Arzu-Brown!


Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Your turn:  Have you read this book with your little ones yet?  How do you empower your children to embrace their natural curls?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Book Reviews

El Perro con Sombrero: A Book Review

El Perro con Sombrero: A Bilingual Doggy Tale
by Derek Taylor Kent


Pepe is a lonely street dog without a home or a loving family. When a strong wind blows a sombrero onto his head, people begin to take notice of the pup, and soon he and his sombrero are making movies and receiving letters from fans every day.  Although Pepe now has fame and fortune, he has no family to call his own. When the jealous cat with purple shoes (el gato en zapatos) hatches a plan to take away Pepe’s hat—and the fame it brings—a chase through streets, weddings, and movie theaters ensues, ending with the cat cornered in a playground sandbox. Just as Pepe is about to get his sombrero back, a family nearby takes notice of him, and the little girl asks if they can take him home. Pepe looks at the family and at the cat holding the hat that made him so famous and tells el gato he can keep the sombrero. Pepe finally finds the precious love he has been seeking.

This is the first bilingual book I’ve added to the kid’s home library so I’m thrilled about that!  I plan to start introducing both of my children to Spanish somewhere between the ages of 3 and 4 years old, so having this book in my possession now is a treat!

The first time I sat down to read this book with the kids they were confused whenever I read the Spanish text.  I’m sure they were wondering what I was saying as that was the first time they heard me read full sentences to them in Spanish.  Since then, I’ve read the book several more times and now they seem to understand the word “perro” means dog, “gato” means cat and “zapatos” means shoes in Spanish.  I think they learned this so quickly because the book has a page where each of those words appear in both English and Spanish along with pictures right next to them.

I was even surprised when my daughter, who is almost 3 years-old, pointed to some money and said “dinero”, the Spanish word for money.  One thing I’ve witnessed during my parenting journey is just how amazing little minds are.  They can grasp so much more than we give them credit for.

This book keeps the children engaged and entertained as they listen.  There are a couple of pages that make them laugh out loud, which in turn makes me laugh.  The illustrations definitely help make this story come alive.  You can feel the sadness that Pepe feels in the beginning, the sheer joy he feels when he finally finds a family in the end, and the sadness “el gato” feels when he’s left all alone in the sandbox.

There were a few things I personally liked about this book.  First, I think Pepe is so cute and when he puts that over-sized sombrero on he looks even more adorable!  It really does make him look like a movie star.  What a difference a sombrero can make!

Next, I liked that each page has English text with the translated Spanish text written in red right below it.  I think by having the Spanish text in a different color it makes it easier to read.  Parents and children can choose to either read only the English text, only the Spanish text, or both the English and Spanish text.

I also enjoyed the story line and the overall message of the book.  I think it’s simple enough for children to understand even for younger readers.  This book will teach children that having a having a family and being loved is more important than fame, acceptance, and possessions.  Other topics touched upon are feelings, jealousy, and friendship.  Learning a few words in Spanish is an added extra bonus.

Lastly, the ending adds an element of both suspense and surprise when you find out what happened to “el gato”, the cat.  I think it really helps to drive the moral of the story home.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and the kids seem to enjoy it too.  I think it’s a fantastic read aloud book, especially for children learning Spanish.  I’ll definitely be reading more bilingual books to the kids after reading this.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Derek Taylor Kent is a screenwriter and the author of the award-winning middle-grade series Scary School.  He lives in Los Angeles with his greyhound puppy, Zander, whose nose for mischief was the real-life inspiration for El Perro con Sombrero.

For more information about the book or the author please visit or check out the Facebook fan page.

Your turn: Did you enjoy this review?  Have you ever read any bilingual books to your little ones?  Feel free to share in the comments.