Chris Callan and Nicky Hutchinson, Minnie and Max are OK!, illustrator Emmi Smid

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017, ISBN 978-1-78592-233-6

Normally after school Minnie has a joyful reunion with Grandma and Max the dog, then skips and hops home, asking all kinds of questions, like 'What if dogs went to school?', while Max asks himself things like 'Why doesn't Grandma like my singing?' But today Minnie walks quietly without a single question. Is something the matter, queries Grandma. Minnie whispers that at playtime two girls laughed at her and said she looked silly. Grandma suggests a trip to the park. On the way, Minnie wishes she could be tall like Samir, and have straight hair like Ella; Max wishes his fur was smart and curly. In the park café Minnie gazes down into her milkshake and says she doesn't like how she looks. Grandma hugs her. 'I love you exactly the way you are.' She says it's wonderful that people look so different. She points around, and Minnie realises how dissimilar everyone is. 'Imagine how boring it would be if we all looked the same', says Grandma. Minnie spots Samir and Ella. All play together happily along with Max. When it's time to go, Minnie's questions to Grandma come think and fast. She and Max start singing. Earlier Minnie and her friends had loved pretending to be monkeys. Now as she cuddles Max she tells him 'But it's even better being me!'

Negative body image can set in very young, so it's good to see a picture book that seeks to celebrate diversity and build body confidence and self-esteem. The authors are specialists in this field, and the book is testimony to their knowledge and sensitivity. Children will enjoy the way Max's feelings match Minnie's. The illustrations are fun and expressive. They are also delightfully inclusive. Like Minnie, the reader sees people who all look very different. How rare, and welcome, for example that some of the children wear glasses. One small cavil: in a book that questions stereotypes in terms of appearance, what a shame that Grandma's physical portrayal conforms to extremely outdated convention. That aside, a very useful book that will help children see that they too are OK, and will give teachers, parents and carers a valuable starting point to important discussions.