Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Natasha Tarpley  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children; Children;

Born: 1971 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Tarpley is a resident of the Historic Pullman neighborhood in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Natasha Tarpley writes fiction and non-fiction for both adults and children. She is best known, however, for her diverse children's books that include the award-winning bestseller ''I Love My Hair''. She has also co-edited an anthology of writings by African American girls ages 12 - 19, ''What I Know is Me'' and edited, ''Testimony: Young African-Americans on Self-Discovery and Black Identity''. Tarpley is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Thurber House and the Illinois Arts Council. A former reporter for Fortune magazine, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her work has appeared in ''Essence'', the ''Los Angeles Times'', ''The Chicago Tribune'', and ''The Washington Post'', as well as many literary journals. With her mother, she founded ''Voonderbar! Productions, LLC'', a multimedia children's entertainment company that produces multicultural books for children of all ages.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Girl in the Mirror: Three Generations of Black Women in Motion (Bluestreak)
ISBN: 0807072036

Beacon Press. 1999

Three Generations of Black Women in Motion In this vivid family memoir told in the voices of three generations of women, poet Natasha Tarpley sets her own migrations in the context of a long line of African-Americans' stories.

I Love My Hair!
ISBN: 0316525588

LB Kids. 2003

A modern classic, this whimsical story has been celebrating the beauty of African-American hair for 20 years!

In this imaginative, evocative story, a girl named Keyana discovers the beauty and magic of her special hair, encouraging black children to be proud of their heritage and enhancing self-confidence.

I Love My Hair! has been a staple in African-American picture books for 20 years, and now has a fresh, updated cover that shines on the shelves!

Bippity Bop Barbershop
ISBN: 0316522848

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 2002

In this companion book to the bestselling "I Love My Hair!, " a young boy, Miles, makes his first trip to the barbershop with his father. With the support of his dad, the barber, and the other men in the barbershop, Miles bravely sits through his first haircut.

Joe-Joe's First Flight
ISBN: 0553113143

Dragonfly Books. 2008

IT IS THE 1920s and segregation is commonplace in the United States, including in Joe-Joe’s small town of Blind Eye. Joe-Joe’s father works at the local airport, and he’s wanted to fly since the first time he saw a plane in the air. But even though the men who work at the airport were promised flying jobs, the owner refuses to let them fly, and they’ve lost hope that they’ll ever get their chance. Their sadness spreads over the town and forms a cloud so thick even the moonlight and stars can’t break through. But on one magical night, little Joe-Joe takes his first plane ride and he’s got a plan: he’s going to talk to that moon and lure her back to Blind Eye so the townsfolk can be happy again.

Destiny's Gift
ISBN: 1584301562

Lee & Low Books. 2004

Destiny's favorite place in the world is Mrs. Wade's bookstore, so when she finds out it may close she stirs the community to help out, then works on a special gift of her own to encourage Mrs. Wade.

The Princess and the Frog: Princess Tiana and the Royal Ball
ISBN: 1423118596

Disney Press. 2009

For as long as she can remember, Tiana has dreamed about just one thing: having her own restaurant. But after she fell in love with Prince Naveen, she not only got her restaurant, she became a princess, too. Now it’s time for her first royal ball—and her first appearance as a princess.

Her friend Charlotte has all kinds of advice on how to act. All Tiana has to do is figure out whether to listen. Featuring lilting text and gorgeous illustrations by one of the film’s animators, this jacketed picture book picks up where the movie leaves off with an enchanting new princess story that little girls will love.

Selma Takes the Stage (The Geek Goddesses) (Volume 1)
ISBN: 0988618427

Voonderbar! Books. 2016

Sixth grader Selma Diagne is an accomplished violinist who wants to be a world-renowned musician more than anything! When she has the chance to audition for her orchestra's trip to Europe, Selma decides to make a secret wish at the Fountain of the Goddesses Eccentrica. In the third grade, Selma and her best friends, Laci and Maritza, discovered the mysterious fountain in a hidden courtyard at their school. The girls were inspired to start their own Goddess club, the Geek Goddesses, aka the GGs, and vowed to make one wish and one wish only: to be best friends forever. Now that Selma has broken the GGs’ “No Secret Wishes” rule, her life is turning topsy-turvy! First, she nearly gets a concussion when Rajiv Gupta, a 12-year-old, skateboard riding, Mohawk clad, world-famous cello player slams into her outside of orchestra rehearsal. Then,when Selma and Raj begin to move from being competitors to friends, tension flares with Laci and Maritza—which could mean the end of the Geek Goddesses. Can the Goddesses Eccentrica save their friendship? “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it—in ways you never expected.”

The Harlem Charade
ISBN: 0545783879

Scholastic Press. 2017


Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family's bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can't tell anyone who she really is. Elvin's living on Harlem's cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked.

When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin's grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune-one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don't find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved

neighborhood will ever be the same . . .

In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home.


Bippity-Bop Barbershop

  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • I Love My Hair!

  • Children's Book of the Year Award, BlackBoard, 1999
  • The Harlem Charade

  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Other Awards

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)