Wednesday, 30 January 2019

"The Mega Magic Hair Swap" by Rochelle Humes and Rachel Suzanne (Studio Press)

Blimey! Did this one ever kick off a fizz-crackling debate at home with all three of us weighing in with an opinion or two on "The Mega Magic Hair Swap" by Rochelle Humes and Rachel Suzanne.

I must admit that I really don't know who Rochelle Humes is, but she's apparently a celebrity TV presenter and is about to add "children's book author" to her CV too.

We were initially grumpy that the press release that accompanied this book made absolutely no mention of the illustrator - concentrating on Rochelle rather than Rachel Suzanne, which is a bit of a shame considering that without the illustrations, this story would feel even more disjointed than it already is (#PicturesMeanBusiness - Come on, it's not hard to give credit to the illustrators in press releases, but hooray for putting a cover credit on at least!)

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the disjointedness of this story, let's focus on the positives for a moment. Sharing a house with two ladies with BIG hair, there was a lot of nodding and 'me too' stuff going on about the core theme of this story. My wife, in particular fully identifies with Mai and I'm sure an awful lot of little girls do too.

Mai, you see, has big curly hair. It's frizzy, voluminous and beautiful but just a bit unruly and difficult to tame.

Rose has poker-straight hair. It's long, flowing but Rose thinks it's utterly boring and it takes a LOT of brushing (again, furious nodding from the ladies present).

Mai loves Rose's hair. Rose loves Mai's hair - and thanks to Mai and a magic coconut the two manage to swap hair!

The problem is, Mai's little Sibling Raine bursts into tears, unable to recognise their sister! This is just the start of the two girls coming to the conclusion that perhaps it's just better to be happier in your own skin (and your own hair, at that!)

Both C and her Mum fully understood and nodded lots at the points that Rochelle was trying to make in her story, but we all agreed that the story felt like it needed a good solid edit and a far better 'flow' to it.

For example there's a whopping great big plot hole when the magic coconut is 'magically' produced by Mai as the mechanism for performing the magic hair swap (which, without the illustrations as we said, would not appear in the story at all until the swap occurs - we never see Mai actually winning it!) I wasn't sure why the actual worded story didn't feature Mai winning the coconut, perhaps it was to keep the page word count low? It felt like a hole though.

The end of the story also seems to wrap up rather quickly with little or no resolution other than "We've swapped back, and we're happy again". Almost like the story could have been a trifle longer, with a couple more examples of why the swap wasn't successful.

Admittedly we're probably being over-fussy for what is essentially a book for a much younger audience than ours (3-5 year olds will defintiely love this, particularly if they too have to sit through mum or dad combing tangles out of their hair! Owch) but kids can see through McGuffins and plot-holes just the same as adults so this is our attempt to be constructive about an essentially 'good' core idea, and I think with a tweak and a tease here and there, this could have actually been very good indeed.

As it stands, it falls a little bit flat, like Donald Trump's barnet when he forgets to pack his extra cans of Elnette Super-Hold Hairspray.

Sum this word up in a sentence: A good attempt to write a story with an important core message about being happy with what you've got and happy in your own skin that could've done with a better edit and a little more work to polish and perfect it.

"The Mega Magic Hair Swap" by Rochelle Humes and Rachel Suzanne is out on 7th Feb 2019, published by Studio Press (kindly supplied for review).