Long and the Short of It: A Tale About Hair

Long and the Short of It: A Tale About Hair

5.0 3
by Barbara Meyers, Lydia Criss Mays, Shennen Bersani

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
Two five year old girls live in different states. Isabel has brown hair. Emma has straight blond hair. Emma learns she has cancer, and the medicine makes her hair fall out. Isabel wants to have long hair like her older cousins. From a friend at school she learns about giving hair away to make wigs for people who lose their hair. Emma is embarrassed about not having hair. She has hats and bandannas but is happy to finally get a wig. The wig is itchy, so Emma is glad when friends attach a pony tail onto a cap which she can wear. Isabel has to have patience to grow her hair ten inches long, before it can be cut and donated for wigs. Emma gets well and her hair grows in brown and curly. Full page colored pictures accompany the text. Each paragraph is accompanied by a single sentence in darker type for younger children. There is a guide for adults to pages that deal with feelings children may have, such as frustration and patience. Questions for children to think about and Web sites for donating hair are listed. Children will find this book informative and full of hope. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman

Product Details

American Cancer Society, Incorporated
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
9 MB
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 Promotions

Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60443-065-3


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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The Long and the Short of It: A Tale About Hair 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MemMorgan More than 1 year ago
This book is so fabulous! I got a copy for my nephew and since then I buy this every child in my life. It really does help children think about others. One of my friend's daughters read the story when she was 4 and once it was time for her scheduled hair cut she told her parents she wanted to grow her hair out to donate it like in the book. She ended up growing her hair until her 7th birthday and donating it all.
MomsChoiceAwards More than 1 year ago
The Long and the Short of It is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS's Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, and New York Times best-selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom's Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the story of friendship, with lessons of compassion, understanding, empathy, and optimism interwoven... a MUST for any teacher, parent, or healthcare provider who is struggling to impart any of these lessons to a child.