Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books

Facial Hair and Children’s Literature


If you think about it, elaborate facial hair is a great way to add personality to characters in children’s books. But, with a few exceptions (Bridget Heos’s MUSTACHE BABY comes to mind), most kidlit authors don’t take advantage of this potential source of hilarity. Think of the humorous options offered by the following types of facial hair, courtesy of Reference.com.


Though this retro style is associated with the 1970s, the word sideburns entered English almost 100 years earlier. This eponymic fuzz is named after Civil War general Ambrose Burnside, who sported sideburns, or as they were first called, burnsides, so long they connected to his mustache.







Muttonchops are sideburns that resemble pieces of mutton growing out from under the ears, down to the jaw. Though this style is sure to be spotted in any Pride and Prejudice adaptation, the word didn’t come about until the mid-1800s, more than 30 years after Austen died.






vandykeVandyke beard

The 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony Vandyke is perhaps just as famous for his portraits of the aristocracy as he is for his short, pointed beard paired with a thick, upturned mustache. A true trendsetter, he also lent his name to wide lace collars with scalloped edges, often depicted in his paintings.






fumanchuFu Manchu

This term describing a mustache with ends that droop to the chin or beyond is named after the character Dr. Fu Manchu, a master criminal from the novels of Sax Rohmer. These novels were made into popular films in the 1920s and ’30s, and the term took off from there.







Goatees first starting growing on human chins in the mid-19th century. This Americanism got its name from its likeness to the tuft of hair that grows from a goat’s chin.







fiveshadowFive o’clock shadow

The five o’clock shadow is the stubble that appears on a man’s face, typically in the late afternoon, if he shaved that same morning. A very short beard is also called a five o’clock shadow.







handlebarHandlebar mustache

The handlebar mustache, often just called a handlebar, is marked by its long curved ends. Its resemblance to a bicycle handlebar gives it its name. Famous wearers include surrealist artist Salvador Dali and everyone’s favorite fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.






chinstrapChinstrap beard

The chinstrap beard was part of the signature look of Abraham Lincoln, who famously grew out his facial hair at the request of 11-year-old Grace Bedell. She promised Lincoln she would try to get her four brothers to vote for him if only he would grow a beard. “All the ladies like whiskers,” Grace wrote to Lincoln. The chinstrap beard features full sideburns and a beard, but no mustache.





horseshoeHorseshoe mustache

This mustache grows down from the upper lips to the chin in two thick vertical lines, thought to resemble a horseshoe. Hulk Hogan wears this style best with a yellow-white ‘stache that seems to almost emit a glow from his lower face.






pencilPencil mustache

The pencil mustache has graced many famous faces from swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn to musician Little Richard to eccentric filmmaker John Waters. This ultra-thin mustache sits neatly above the upper lip and nose.







toothbrushToothbrush mustache

The toothbrush mustache, over time, has taken on the names of its most notable wearers, including Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler. It first appeared at the turn of the 20th century in the United States, though its popularity has since declined due to negative associations with Nazi Germany.





Author: Henry Herz

Children's book author

2 thoughts on “Facial Hair and Children’s Literature

  1. True! Must say my former 2nd graders found baldness hilarious too! Could you look into that for me?

  2. You know, a few years back, when I was doing research on facial hair (canNOT remember why), I remember coming across a bunch of “odd” ones, but a few of these are quite “unusual” lol What amazes me is how anyone could’ve thought something like muttonchops actually LOOKed good! lol The man’s about to take off! lol I really enjoyed learning about the origin of the term “sideburns,” so thank you for that, Henry 🙂

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