Bintou's Braids by Sylvianne Diouf (2004)
Bintou wants braids. Long, pretty braids, woven with gold coins and seashells, just like her older sister and the other women in her family. But she is too young for braids. Instead, all she has are four little tufts of hair; all she ever gets are cornrows. However, when Bintou saves the lives of her two young cousins and is offered a reward of her choosing, Bintou discovers that true beauty comes in many different forms. Rich, earthy illustrations and a heartwarming story capture the spirit of a West African village in this wise tale about a girl who learns she's perfect just the way she is.