All Bodies are Good Bodies (Charlotte Barkla, Little Hare)
All Bodies Are Good Bodies is a rhyming picture book that champions bodies of all shapes and sizes. Charlotte Barkla’s words are written to be read out loud as one by one she sings the praises of various body parts: ‘Hands that are white and hands that are brown/Freckles mean sunshine has sent kisses down’, ‘Long arms, short arms, chubby or twiggy/Some are muscly and others are jiggly.’ Erica Salecedo’s illustrations, too, are a tribute to diversity, depicting a group of children at play, all with a variety of skin tones and hair colours and styles; there are bodies in wheelchairs and eyes adorned with glasses. The book is a riot of movement: all the children are seen doing typical kid activities, using all their senses and enjoying all that their bodies can do—reading, crafting with playdough, hanging upside-down on play equipment, washing dogs. For preschoolers upwards, there’s nothing especially unusual about all these pastimes and that’s the whole point of the book. It’s a reminder that all too easily we take our bodies for granted when— look!—they can jump and twirl and shake and laugh.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue