Dawn Stram addresses the humorous, real-life experiences of hair coloring gone awry in her picture book Fat Ladies Shouldn’t Have Orange Hair!
Ellen helps supervise children during school recesses. When her mother has a stroke, Ellen and her sister Sharlene visit their mom to help with her recovery. While there, the sisters decide on a bit of fun and dye their hair, but the colors go wrong—several times. As Sharlene suffers through hair tinted green, then peach, Ellen’s hair is turned purplish-red, then bright orange.
Unable to change it, Ellen reluctantly accepts her orange hair just in time to go back to work. This leads to one child making the title comment, and Ellen learning that she can laugh at her mistakes.
Fat Ladies Shouldn’t Have Orange Hair! tells a fun story, with plenty of realism. But the necessary ramping-up of drama is absent. While the schoolchildren are initially curious about Ellen’s hair, they soon get used to it, so when a little boy says that fat ladies shouldn’t have orange hair —the story’s potential climax — the effect is underwhelming at best.
In addition, the book wraps up by noting the many lessons Ellen learned from her experience. There are far too many (six) to have much impact and some seem to be a reach for this particular tale. Even the author is unable to pinpoint the main idea of the story, using the phrase “most of all” twice in her closing summary: “Most of all, Ellen learned that friends make you happy—and that sisters can be good friends, too…. but most of all, she decided that it’s OK for fat ladies to have orange hair!”
Though it’s not certain how relevant the story will be to children (vs. their mothers), Fat Ladies Shouldn’t Have Orange Hair! is an amusing tale that might find an audience among youngsters… or at least the ladies at the hair salon.