The Long and the Short of It: A Tale About Hairby Lydia Criss Mays, Barbara Meyers, Shennen Bersani
With colorful illustrations and a comforting message, this picture book follows the parallel stories of two young girls who are having problems with their hair. One wants to grow her hair longer, while the other, who has lost her hair during cancer treatment, would just like to have it back. Their friendship leads them to a new understanding of hair loss and the… See more details below
With colorful illustrations and a comforting message, this picture book follows the parallel stories of two young girls who are having problems with their hair. One wants to grow her hair longer, while the other, who has lost her hair during cancer treatment, would just like to have it back. Their friendship leads them to a new understanding of hair loss and the act of giving, and teaches them about courage, generosity, and pride. A helpful reading and discussion guide for parents and a list of fun, related learning activities for kids are also included.
- American Cancer Society, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.10(w) x 10.38(h) x 0.48(d)
- Age Range:
- 7 - 9 Years
Read an Excerpt
The Long and the Short of It
A Tale About Hair
By Barbara Meyers, Lydia Criss Mays, Shennen Bersani
American Cancer Society / Health PromotionsCopyright © 2011 American Cancer Society
All rights reserved.
I'm Isabel. My eyes are the color of the sea and my hair is the color of caramel candy. People tell me my hair is straight as bamboo. When I was five, I lived in Illinois with my mother, father, and big brother, Charlie. Mom said I was ready to use a real knife when we cooked in the kitchen. Dad helped me try out a two-wheeler with training wheels, and Charlie practiced chess with me because I was old enough to join the chess team.
I'm Emma. I have big, round brown eyes. When I was five I had straight blond hair and when I smiled you could see the hole in my mouth where I lost my fist tooth. I lived in Georgia with my mom, my dad, my brother, Calvin, and my sister, Audrey. Mom told me I was big enough to keep an eye on Baby Audrey while she worked in the garden. Dad even let me go to work with him sometimes, and Calvin taught me how to rock climb because I was strong enough.
When I started kindergarten, I felt really grown up. I decided it was time to grow my hair long, just like my twelve-year-old cousins Gina and Alexa. They had long, shiny hair that went down their backs and swayed when they danced. I always wished my hair swayed just like theirs. I didn't know it yet, but I was also old enough to have patience.
The thing about growing out your hair is it takes a long, long time!
I was so excited about going to kindergarten. I loved when Ms. Goff aught us math. It was my favorite time of the day. Just after I started school, I got sick. When I used to get sick, my mom would give me medicine and I'd get better right away. But this time, I didn't feel better. The doctor told my family I had cancer. To get better I would have to take a special medicine every day. The medicine made my hair fall out. It got really thin and stringy, like dental flo s. I loved my hair, and I really didn't want my hair to go away. But Dad told me being bald is fun. He doesn't have hair either, but not because he's sick. There are lots of reasons people don't have hair.
The thing about losing your hair is that it can make you feel sad.
Mom said I could grow my hair long, but I would have to take care of it and brush it every day and every night. So I shampooed and conditioned my hair, combed out the knots, and even used a special spray called a detangler. My hair looked like Rapunzel's, and I used barrettes, bows, and headbands. When Grandma came to town, we went shopping for beautiful ribbons. When I played soccer, my mom put my hair in a ponytail or French braid so I could see the ball and score a goal.
The thing about having long hair is that it can be fun, but taking care of it can be a lot of work.
As I kept taking the medicine, I lost more and more hair. At night it would fall out on my pillow. I didn't have as much energy for rock climbing or playing with my friends, but I still loved helping Mom make brownies and cookies. The doctors said I was getting better because of the medicine, so I had to keep taking it. My hair kept falling out. I didn't want it to keep happening every night, so I asked my mom if we could shave it off. We went to the hair salon, and I held the clippers to cut my own hair. I wanted to see what I looked like with only a Mohawk. It was funny, but it wasn't really the hairstyle for me.
The thing about losing your hair is you have to have a sense of humor.
My best friend had long hair like me. We loved to dress up as princesses and fix ur hair in lots of different ways. One day she came to school with short hair. I didn't even recognize her! She told me she had given her hair away. Huh? It had taken me months and months to grow out my hair. I would never want to give it away! But then she told me what happened to her hair after she cut it off. She told me that some kids get very sick, and they lose their hair. If you grow your hair really long, you can donate it to a group that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair. That got me thinking about whether someone could use my hair. I wondered if my hair was long enough to give away. I liked the idea of doing nice stuff or someone else.
The thing about growing out your hair is that some people do it just to give it to others.
After I lost my hair, I did not like going to school. Mom and Dad asked why, and I told them my embarrassing story. Someone at school asked me if I was a boy or a girl because I didn't have any hair. She said, "You're wearing pink like a girl, but you look like a boy." That made me sad, but I didn't cry. I told her I was a girl. I didn't want people to know how upset I was, but I wanted my hair back! I was the same Emma, even though I looked really different. Mom said she was proud of me because I told the girl without getting upset. Still, it was a sad day for me.
The thing about losing your hair is it can make you feel embarrassed.
I told my mom about my friend's haircut and why she gave her hair away. I kept thinking about the children who had lost their hair. I was worried. Could I get sick with something that would make my beautiful hair go away? Could I catch cancer and lose my hair? I wouldn't be able to go get beautiful ribbons with Grandma or have fancy hairdos. Mom said that people don't catch cancer. She said, "We know you are healthy. We have taken you for checkups. If you get sick, Dr. Sanchez will tell us how to help you get better."
The thing about your hair is it can be scary to think about not having any.
I felt better and better every day. I was able to go to Camp Sunshine for a week over the summer. It's an awesome place for kids like me who have cancer. We swam, played games, and slept in tents just like other kids. But I still felt embarrassed. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt weird. Mom and Dad tried all sorts of things to make me feel better about my bald head. Mom bought me lots of colorful bandanas, and we went to the store and picked out fun, pretty hats. Even though the bandanas and hats covered my head, people still looked at me funny.
The thing about losing your hair is you have to be creative.
Even though I'd worked so hard to grow my hair long, I got this idea that maybe someone else needed it more than I did. I asked my mom to measure my hair to see if it was long enough to give away. It had to be ten inches long before I could donate it. My ponytail was only eight inches long. I had two inches to go.
We kept on measuring. My hair grew and grew, and sometimes it got so tangled that my mom wanted to cut it. But donating it was too important. I had to wait until it was just the right length.
The thing about deciding to give your hair to someone is that you have to go for it and not give up.
Then, something wonderful happened! I got a wig made out of real hair. It reminded me of my own hair. Now I felt like my old self again. The wig came from children and adults who grew out their hair and donated it. Even though I didn't know who gave their hair, I could tell they cared about people like me. My doctors said the medicine was working, but I wasn't well yet. Th s meant I had to keep taking the medicine, and my own hair couldn't start growing back yet. Good thing I had my wig!
The thing about having hair, even if it wasn't really from my own head, was that it made me feel SO much better!
My hair fi ally, fi ally, fi ally measured ten inches! Woohoo! I was so excited. It was the right length to cut. We went to the hair salon and I waited my turn. When they called out "Isabel," I went with my mom and sat in the chair. The haircut lady said it was a tricky cut because she had to cut so close to my head. I was a little afraid that the haircut might hurt, but it didn't. I felt like a new me with my new short hair!
The thing about getting your hair cut is that it doesn't hurt.
I loved having hair, but the wig was sort of itchy. So my friends made this thing called a ponytail pack for me from their own hair. They sewed the hair onto a ponytail holder and then onto a cap. It was cool! Now I could wear my wig or my ponytail pack. I started to feel well enough to do things with my family. We went out to dinner at my favorite restaurant and visited the park in my neighborhood. No one asked me whether I was a boy or a girl. Th y knew!
The thing about having a wig or ponytail pack is that I was happy and felt like me again.
I kinda liked my short hair. In the summer, it was cooler and easier to wash and brush. I had more time to play with my dolls, ride my two-wheeler, and read books all by myself.
Sometimes, I missed my long hair, but I knew I could grow it long again. I don't know who got my hair after I cut it, but that's okay. If someone loves my hair as much as I did, it was worth it.
The thing about giving away your hair is that it makes you feel good.
My family fi ally got good news! The doctors said my cancer was gone. I could stop taking the medicine that made my hair fall out. My hair grew back brown and curly. I loved it! My hair used to be blond and straight, like everyone else's in my family. But that's okay; my different hair made me feel pretty cool.
I decided to grow my new hair long so that I could donate it to others who had lost their hair just like I did.
Excerpted from The Long and the Short of It by Barbara Meyers, Lydia Criss Mays, Shennen Bersani. Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society. Excerpted by permission of American Cancer Society / Health Promotions.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Barbara Meyers is the early childhood education department chair at Georgia State University and has been an educator for more than 40 years. Lydia Criss Mays is an instructor in early childhood education at Georgia State University and is involved with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. They both live in Atlanta, Georgia. Shennen Bersani is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
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