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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Mophead: How Your Difference Makes A Difference by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Selina, aged 10, is teased for her big, impossible-to-tame wild, frizzy hair. The mean kids at school call her 'mophead'. Selina does everything she can to tie her hair up and be the same as the other kids. That is until one day when New Zealand poet Sam Hunt visits her school.

He has wild hair and wild words. Enchanted and inspired, Selina has an epiphany. She will let her hair out, embrace her difference, and just go wild.

New Zealand's poet laureate, Tusitala Marsh has written and illustrated her own inspirational graphic memoir.

This beautiful hardcover book tells her story - from becoming head girl to being one of hte first Pasifika women to hold a PhD. She recounts how she reads for the Queen of England, Sāmoan royalty, and about meeting Barack Obama.

Then, she discusses being named poet laureate and how she gets to design her own tokotoko as part of that.

As well as telling her story, Tusitala Marsh illustrates it. Her admiration of Spike Milligan is clear in this way. The simple colour palette of black, red, and white makes for stunning, effective drawings, while also drawing on traditional colours used in Pasifika artworks. The cover of the book perfectly highlights this choice, it is a book that stands out. The hardback with debossing (where the pattern is recessed into the surface) makes it a book that begs to be left out and admired.

Also included in the book is a glossary of words - Tusitala Marsh uses Māori, Sāmoan, Rarotongan and Tongan in the book. She also helpfully includes a list of Pasifika women and their first books to inspire other young writers and readers, as well as a gorgeous fa'afetai (thanks) page. The back endpages are covered in photographs of Tusitala Marsh during various stages of her life. It was particularly sweet to see one of her with the poet that sparked her journey, Sam Hunt.

She dedicates Mophead to "those that stick out". This book embraces that sentiment. It is a unique and utterly gorgeous book with a story that stands out.

This book will inspire both young and old to embrace their uniqueness and inspire them to use that difference to make a difference.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Auckland University Press, RRP 24.99

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