Mophead: How Your Difference Makes a Difference
Selina Tusitala Marsh
A moving graphic memoir of growing up Pasifika in New Zealand, written and illustrated by our fast-talking PI Poet Laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh.
At school, Selina is teased for her big, frizzy hair. Kids call her ‘mophead’. She ties her hair up this way and that way and tries to fit in. Until one day – Sam Hunt plays a role – Selina gives up the game. She decides to let her hair out, to embrace her difference, to be WILD!
Selina takes us through special moments in her extraordinary life. She becomes one of the first Pasifika women to hold a PhD. She reads for the Queen of England and Samoan royalty. She meets Barack Obama. And then she is named the New Zealand Poet Laureate. She picks up her special tokotoko, and notices something. It has wild hair coming out the end. It looks like a mop. A kid on the Waiheke ferry teases her about it. So she tells him a story . . .
This is an inspirational graphic memoir, full of wry humour, that will appeal to young readers and adults alike. Illustrated with wit and verve by the author – NZ’s bestselling Poet Laureate – Mophead tells the true story of a New Zealand woman realising how her difference can make a difference.
Author and Illustrator
Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English and French descent. She was the first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English from The University of Auckland and is now a lecturer in the English Department, specialising in Pasifika literature. Her first collection, the bestselling Fast Talking PI, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry in 2010. Marsh represented Tuvalu at the London Olympics Poetry Parnassus event in 2012; her work has been translated into Ukrainian and Spanish and has appeared in numerous forms live in schools, museums, parks, billboards, print and online literary journals. As Commonwealth Poet (2016), she composed and performed for the Queen at Westminster Abbey. She became New Zealand's Poet Laureate in 2017.
Read an extract
Awards and Nominations
Winner – 2020 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year – New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
Winner – 2020 Elsie Locke Award for Non-fiction – New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
Winner – 2020 Storylines Notable Book Award – Storylines Notable Non-fiction (age range from 3 years to 18 years)
Winner – 2020 PANZ Book Design Awards – Gerard Reid Award for Best Book
Winner – 2020 PANZ Book Design Awards – Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children’s Book
Winner – 2020 PANZ Book Design Awards – Publishers Association of New Zealand People’s Choice Award
Reviews and interviews
'We love [Mophead's] design and production. We love that it’s part picture book, part graphic novel, part memoir, part poem – its form is exactly what it wants and needs to be, which is the message of the book too,' – Jane Arthur, convenor of judges, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
‘Mophead is quirky and visually full of surprises. The story is very funny and, like all good funny stories, it has a sting in the tail. Mophead has much to say about finding that inner strength that allows you to be true to yourself.’ – Gavin Bishop, ONZM
'Altogether, this book is a delight – to hold, to read, to see, and to learn from.' – Bronwyn Elsmore, Flaxroots
'Selina’s living up to the name she inherited from her Tuvaluan grandfather: Tusitala means ‘teller of tales’ – 'Different is okay', Lyn Barnes, thisNZlife.co.nz
Listen to Selina discuss the surprising genesis of Mophead at the Adventurous Women event that was part of the 2020 WORD Christchurch festival, recorded by RNZ.