Celebrating red heads
There are the names (carrot top), the myths (looming extinction), the quirks (more novocaine, please) and the superstitions (fiery tempers).
Mostly, though, there is the inevitable question: So, where did you get that red hair?
"Duh," while biologically logical, isn't necessarily the best answer, because many red-haired kids are born to moms and dads of the blond and brunette persuasion. New parents may be as surprised as anyone to be cradling a copper top.
Ten-year-old Selena Brills has a ready answer: "I got it from my Irish grandma," she says, her shoulders shrugging beneath a glorious mane of auburn hair. She's among seven Minnesota kids featured in "Little Redheads Across America" (littleredheadsacrossamerica.com, $30), by Nicole Giladi, a California mom caught off guard by the attention her red-haired son received wherever they went.
Giladi began researching redheads and met other parents dealing with the attention and occasional travails visited upon a child whose hair resembles a bonfire. The resulting book is meant to provide red-haired kids with the sense that they're not alone, even though it sometimes feels that way.
Consider: Only 1 to 2 percent of the world's population have red hair. The United States actually has the largest population of redheads, with 6 million to 12 million, or 2 to 6 percent. But that range indicates the nuances within the recessive red-hair gene, from pale strawberry blond to a mahogany auburn like Selena's.
"We get stopped in Target by people asking if I dye her hair," said Selena's mother, Patty Brills, rolling her eyes at the idea of dyeing a fourth-graders' hair. "I mean, really?" Selena's hair was red from the first moment, "a little cinnamony strand that then came in with a vengeance." The Brillses, who live in Blaine, have another daughter, Summer, who is a brunette. The red comes from Grandma Rosella.