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Friday, August 6, 2010

Review: Nowhere Hair by Sue Glader

I’ve had three close friends diagnosed with breast cancer in their 30s – all have kids. So when I heard about Sue Glader’s new book picture book Nowhere Hair, I knew I had to read it. It’s not aimed at me, though. It’s a kids’ book, gently talking about a mother’s cancer. The imaginative narrator, a cute little girl, wonders if Mommy’s hair is being used in a sparrow’s nest, or perhaps by a cat needing a warmer coat.

She learns, of course, that her mother has cancer and the medicine is causing her hair to fall out. Without getting complicated or preachy (and with no talk of death), the girl learns that Mommy’s cancer isn’t any fault of her daughter’s, and isn’t contagious. She sees that Mommy has hats for every mood: sleepy, grumpy silly and happy (fortunately lots more hats for the happy Mommy).

And the little girl shares her compassion for others to be kind to bald women like her Mommy. She knows that while Mommy looks different and has less energy, she’s the same inside as she always was.

Nowhere Hair is beautifully illustrated by Edith Buenen, with whimsical watercolor pictures of the narrator and her mother. Pictures are worth 1,000 words here –silently continuing the story – like Mommy lying on the couch while her daughter plays with the dollhouse. And Mommy spending quality time with her daughter, whether cuddling or cooking together.

Though the book is not sad, I have to admit I had tears in my eyes reading it. Maybe it’s just the idea that this book even has to be out there. I can picture my friends, with their bald heads covered, curled up on the couch or bed with their kids reading this story.

Glader, a Marin resident, wrote the book after experiencing it for herself. If you have a friend or loved one with cancer (and she has kids), get this book for her. You can buy it ($15.99) online from the author, at or at Book Passage in Corte Madera, Mill Valley’s Depot Bookstore and Mill Valley Hatbox and Books Inc. in Palo Alto.

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