Using the metaphor of a braid, or trenza, as a reminder of love for self and others, the picture book Only a Trenza Away: A Tale of Trust and Strength by Nadine Fonseca and illustrated by Camilla Carrossine (Shadow Mountain, August 2023) gives a tender lesson between a father and a daughter, emphasizing the importance of inner strength. In the story, Xiomara discovers her own courage, resilience, and patience through the nightly ritual of her father braiding her hair and creating adventures. However, when he cannot braid her hair one night, Xiomara learns she needs to find strength within herself as she prepares for a new adventure at a new school.
In the story, Xiomara’s father teaches her the meaning of the three sections of braid: one section to remind her of those who love her, one section to remind her of those she loves, and the final section to remind her to love herself now and as she hopes to be in the future. Then, as she faces the idea of going to her new school, Xiomara sees her braid and remembers how her father’s love is just a “trenza” away.
The vivid illustrations bursting with bright, swirling colors reflect Xiomara’s confidence and hope. Further, sprinkled throughout the book are a handful of Spanish words, adding a unique cultural touch to the father-daughter duo.
I felt a little unclear as I read as to whether the father tells adventurous stories during the hair braiding session or if Xiomara alone imagines the adventures. In the end, it does not matter, because Xiomara realizes that the braids and the cherished time spent with her father provide her with her strength. Ultimately, she learns the powerful lesson that love accompanies her always, just a braid away.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.