THE BRAID GIRLS, by Sherri Winston, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, June 13, 2023, Paperback $8.99 (ages 8-12)
Three girls create the ultimate hair-braiding business in The Braid Girls, a middle-grade contemporary novel by Sherri Winston.
Maggie’s world is turned upside down when she learns that her father, whom she admires, has a second daughter, Callie, whom no one knew existed. But she won’t let a new family member get in the way of her summer plans with best friend Daija. They’re determined to make tons of money braiding hair for kids around the neighborhood.
Daija’s always felt like she had a sister in Maggie. So, she can’t let new half-sister Callie take her place! And she can’t let her interfere with their new Braid Girls business, either. She needs the money to pay for extra ballet lessons so she can go en pointe and earn a spot in the fall dance showcase, making her distant father proud at last—if she pulls this off, he’ll have to pay attention to her.
Callie’s still grieving her late mom. Now she’s leaving her old home in the Bahamas behind, including her old school and friends to move in with the father she’s never met, plus his family. When she hears of Maggie’s and Daija’s business, she sees a chance to prove her skills and a way to be accepted.
With three very different girls on board, the Braid Girls arrive to a summer camp full of kids with locs begging to be braided. Business is booming, until rival Angela shows up with her friends and starts a new braiding business—the Sistahs Who Braid. With competition heating up, the Braid Girls are sure to have an unforgettable summer. —Synopsis provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Braid Girls is a wholesome contemporary middle-grade novel that celebrates friendship and family.
The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of the three girls — Maggie, Callie and Daija. The girls are delightfully different, with their own quirks and motivations.
Maggie, Callie and Daija are Black girls who have perfected the art of braiding. They’ve got straight parts and know the right products to use. Readers who aren’t familiar with Black culture may not understand the overall significance of braiding, but there’s enough context for them to understand it’s important to do it right, and it shouldn’t stop kids from picking up this book.
Author Sherri Winston does a good job getting to the heart of middle-grade social dynamics. The stereotypical “mean girls” feel one note, but that’s to be expected with everything else that’s going on.
The Braid Girls is a heartwarming tale that should appeal to lots of readers.
*The Braid Girls is a Cybils-nominated book. This review is my opinion and not the opinion of the middle-grade fiction panel as a whole.
Copyright © 2023 Cracking the Cover. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.