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From My Head to My Toes, I Say What Goes

By Charlotte Barkla & Jacqui Lee
Reviewed by Margarite Igras
Charlotte Barkla has followed up her debut picture book, All Bodies Are Good Bodies, with this empowering exploration about respectful body boundaries. Together with Jacqui Lee’s illustrations, the author has created an assertive main character, to demonstrates in a positive way how to give consent, or not, and to be respectful of the choices other children make.
We are introduced to a girl and her warm and caring family. She attends a birthday party, has fun at a Carnival, plays in the park with her diverse range of friends, and even enjoys some fruit tasting. She speaks to the reader: firstly, about the YES choices she makes, I might say YES to jumping jacks, to tasting cheese or wearing slacks. But in the second part of the book, Sometimes I don’t want a hug; a slobber from my neighbour’s pug. If granny’s pucker comes my way, sometimes I’ll say, ‘High five today!’
The book is in verse, with only a few lines on each page.  The words YES and NO are in bold font, as are those in the speech bubbles that offer a child some other ways to respond, such as NO, THANKS THAT’S NOT FOR ME and IMIGHT TRY THOSE ANOTHER TIME. The illustrations are simple, colourful, and expressive. They fill the page with details that can lead to further examination and discussion.
A wonderful book for a wide range of ages. It is about children learning to speak up, being mutually respectful and being aware that they have control of their bodies.
Bright Light (An imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing) 2022
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