“The Jiu-Jitsu Ponytail” was born out of my love for my daughter and our shared experience learning Brazilian jiu-jitsu together. Not wanting to wake up my wife early on Saturday mornings, my 5-year-old daughter and I decided that I (gulp!) would have to take on the seemingly insurmountable task of tying her ponytail for jiu-jitsu practice. It was a hugely daunting task for both of us. In fact, tying her ponytails has been no less challenging than a martial art for me: Grappling with unruly hair, figuring out how to stretch those little, elastic hair-tie-thingies without popping them off my fingers, struggling to sweep together all those loose hairs…! And God forbid, I pull a hair…! The little yelps of pain from my baby girl are enough to make my heart stop! Eventually, I learned. I’m still no black belt in tying ponytails, mind you, but maybe at least a blue belt? Nevertheless, this experience gave birth to “The Jiu-Jitsu Ponytail.”
Our “pony-tale” (sorry, couldn’t resist!) begins with Noor getting ready to leave for her first jiu-jitsu tournament ever. She’s a very competitive girl, and she wants to win. However, her ponytail refuses to cooperate. It sprawls out lazily, sending tufts of hair falling onto Noor’s face and covering her eyes. The messy ponytail simply won’t let Noor tie it up tightly or be held down with some bobby pins. Talk about a bad hair day! The exasperated girl must finally resort to some desperate measures to try and get to the jiu-jitsu tournament on time. However, Noor’s troubles are far from over…!
On the surface, this is a simple, fun story about a girl struggling with her unruly hair. It’s a story that is meant to be funny and enjoyable for children. Yet, it is also meant to speak to adults because it relates to a predicament many people — both women and men — can empathize with: The fact that our hair can often feel like it’s got “a mind of its own.”
However, there is also a deeper theme here, namely of empowering girls and the role men can and must play in it. Noor has to make some important decisions that will affect the outcome of her performance in the jiu-jitsu tournament. Meanwhile, her Baba must play a key role in enabling her success.
I set out to publish this story as a hardcover, children’s picture book, and I am incredibly fortunate to have found a talented, up-and-coming artist, Taahira Halim, to help bring the story to life. After nearly a year of writing, re-writing, editing, and countless sketches, followed by our very first Kickstarter campaign — which was successfully funded! — we’ve succeeded in publishing this book! Get your copy today on Amazon or directly from the author here!
Illustrations: Full color with over 2/3 of the book consisting of full-page illustrations
Target Readers: Primarily intended for ages 6 to 10, but kids of all ages and adults are sure to enjoy the story as well! 🙂