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Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite
Mya, the main character in My Beads and Me by Amber T. Bogan, knows that her colorful hair beads are so much more than just ornaments for her braided hair. They are there to help her remember her traditional roots, which teach her that she can be and do anything that she wants in life, be it an acrobat, a doctor, an astronaut, or whatever her heart desires. This allows an imaginative Mya, with the help of her beads, to travel back in time or go jetting to places around the world and even venture into outer space. These magical beads also serve to remind her to enjoy activities with friends, bake, eat ice cream or be musical through their clicking and clacking sounds. They will always be her perfect companion throughout the day, when she shines, and when she's in bed for a good night's sleep.
African history shows the use of hair beads to signify social status and in the modern-day world, it can also be a form of cultural, artistic, or even political expression. Through the eyes of Amber T. Bogan's imaginative little character, Mya, this tradition is something that not only sparks creativity but also gives her a positive self-view that empowers and gives her the hope to believe in herself. They help fuel her imagination, confidence, and optimism, leading to self-discovery and the ability to face the unexpected. The brilliant and colorful illustrations by Karla Bivens look so lively and energetic in a style that completely enhances the story and makes it appealing to young readers. Together with the narrative, the artwork helps portray a sense of amazement and self-affirmation that a child like Mya gets from her beautifully beaded hair. My Beads and Me's simple and rhythmic language, along with its attractive layout, makes this a fun and stimulating read for children; this is a highly recommended read-along.