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Natalie McGriff’s comic book “The Adventures of Moxie Girl” is helping to build self-esteem and vocabulary skills of Black girls. (Courtesy Photo)

“I didn’t like my hair and I didn’t like to read,” were the first words 8-year-old Natalie McGriff spoke during a recent interview with the AFRO.  Fortunately for McGriff, her mother’s intuition and creativity catapulted Natalie’s lament into the latest, and perhaps fiercest, new superhero — Moxie McGriff.

Angie Nixon said that her daughter’s self-esteem issues grew from a dislike of both her hair and her complexion, and when she found that Natalie also disliked reading, she decided to combine a single platform to address all three concerns.  Moxie McGriff has fire and ice powers that come from her grandmother’s secret shampoo and conditioner.

“I asked Natalie if she would like to see herself as a super hero in a comic book and she said ‘Sure,’ Nixon said.  “So I made her superpowers part of her hair – because I wanted her to see how powerful and awesome it was to have her hair to be natural, and my one condition was that Natalie had to read more books so that she could improve her vocabulary and learn more words because no one wants to read a boring book with basic words in it.”

“The Adventures of Moxie Girl” introduces an afro-puff wearing, girl superhero to an audience of Black girls with similar concerns over their appearances. The book includes a word list and assignments to encourage young readers to expand their vocabulary.

“We put in word lists that may be a bit far-reaching for kids in elementary school because they will need a strong foundation with those SAT words they encounter in high school. If they are learning them now, it will be that much easier later,” said Nixon, who entered the book into a crowdfunding contest and won $15,000 to produce and promote the book.

In addition to improving Natalie’s reading, writing and comprehension skills, “The Adventures of Moxie Girl” has also had a positive impact on her self-esteem.

“Since the book came out Natalie’s self-esteem has increased dramatically and she doesn’t even understand the impact she is having on other young people right now and how they feel about themselves,” Nixon said.  “We recently donated 50 books to the local Boys and Girls Club (Washington D.C.) and a lot of the girls came up and hugged her and asked for her autograph.  These little girls are seeing characters that look like them and that was the main reason I did this.  She never saw characters who looked like her and that were her age.  Now there is a character and it is her.”