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Nine-year-old writes book about challenges of maintaining afro hair

Nine-year-old Amaya James has written her first number 1 bestselling book in the beauty category on Amazon in Canada called 'Afro No'. The book tackles the sometimes-complicated relationship that young black girls have with their hair and alludes to the beauty, individuality, and satisfaction that comes with the agony and difficulty of getting their hair done.

Amaya, the daughter of St Lucian mother Juli-Ann James and Canadian father Andrew James, began drawing at the age of four, and when her parents realized her skill, they equipped her with the digital tools she needed to develop it.

According to her mother, Amaya’s drawings were more advanced than the average four-year-old drawings.

“Amaya started drawing first actually, her primary passion is drawing. She has been drawing since the age of four and her father and I recognized that she had a talent for drawing. We wanted to equip her with not just a pen or pencil and paper, but also the digital skills to capture her drawings. So, we got her an iPad and installed a program called Procreate on the iPad where she can actually draw with pencil and paper, take a picture of her drawing and digitize it in Procreate. You could see the difference in her drawings at four and other four-year-old drawings because she has siblings. We could see the difference and we knew that she had a talent so we tried to encourage her.”

The idea of the book came about when Amaya drew this character, a girl with an extremely enormous afro that would pick up objects while she walked because her hair was so big. She showed it to her older sister who encouraged her to show it to her parents, who took it a step further and helped her publish a book.

Amaya wrote and illustrated the book, which was published on October 31 by her parents' publishing company Summerhill Publishing.

“The book was published on October 31 but the concept of the drawing started in August this year. The book was published by Summerhill Publishing which is a publishing company that her father and I started. We both published a book under it but it had been dormant until she came up with the book idea and brought everything together, we just figured we would publish under Summerhill Publishing. The book became live on Amazon on November 1 and within a day it hit the number one bestselling spot in the beauty category on Amazon in the Canadian marketplace.”

“People think that the book is quite exceptional being that she is nine years old and she wrote and illustrated the entire book herself. The feedback has been very positive, she has done a few interviews. The story in the book is very much about her even though the character is not named Amaya, it’s very true to her own story. She has a lot of hair and is very tender-headed so that’s been a source of trauma. I know a lot of young black girls can relate to this that pulling and doing your hair can be a very painful process for both the child and the mother. She is just happy at the fact that something that is painful to her is bringing such joy to other people.”

Andrew, Amaya's father, believes that empowering children to finish tasks they start, see things through until the end, and do what they want is something that parents should do, and seeing Amaya do what she has is something that encourages him and warms his heart.

“You see her doing her interviews and answering the questions so articulately, you’re like wow, this is our kid. So, we are proud and honored. I think that if we as parents listen to our kids, don’t think that their ideas are too farfetched and really empower them to be able to do it, it will really give them a sense of knowing that there is no limit to what they can do.”

‘Afro No’ can be purchased on Amazon for US $10.97 and is also available at a Booklore in Orangeville, Canada.

Article by: Sharine Joseph (

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