MINNEAPOLIS — As some of us prepare to return to school for the first time in months, we're all reminded that we have to do our part in being patient, and kind while navigating this new world together.
A local parent and a four-time cornea transplant patient decided she wanted to write a book about that with her 3-year-old daughter during the time she was staying home on maternity leave.
Her main objective of writing the book, was to teach her 3-year-old daughter about her body, and how to be accepting of all the differences in other people's bodies.
Paulette Bonneur said having a very young co-author can be troublesome sometimes (sometimes she's not into packaging the books for delivery, and needs a snack instead) but when young Harper is into it, there may be fewer greater gifts than a co-worker who can read your mind.
On Friday, Paulette and Harper met us to talk about their new book "Everybody Love Your Body." Harper held the purple book in her hands and gleefully announced the title of her book.
Bonneur said the idea came to her when she was pregnant with her second child, Hunter. She said Harper had a lot of questions about her mother's growing belly, and was curious about the differences in their bodies.
"Kids are curious about your body," Bonneur said. "They start to touch, they start to ask you about your body. Well it's like, how do I navigate this. So instead of skirting around the issue, we faced the issue full-on."
Bonneur agreed that it's sometimes difficult for parents to have talks about bodies with their children.
"when I was pregnant, my belly was out to here," she said, reaching in front of her. "Harper was like, 'what is that?' and we'd talk about it and I was like you know what, everybody love their body."
That's the story of how Paulette and Harper became co-authors. "Everybody Love Your Body" addresses basic things you'd expect a children's book to address. Like what bones do in our bodies, what our eyes do. Bonneur said she also talks a little about the definition of 'safe touch' within the book as well.
However, just as important as the content, is the illustration.
"There are books out there but we know that representation matters," Bonneur said. "We wanted to see people who look like us, look like Harper and having a different perspective. So writing this book for us was really important."
As Bonneur and Harper flipped through the pages, they pointed out that the main character (a Harper look-alike) has friends who are people of color. The dolls that the children play with in the book are also diverse.
For Bonneur, as someone who is raising a future young woman, she said she wanted to empower girls, and all children that self-love is also very important.
"As women, all the insecurities that we face--all the scrutiny that we face-- and other people telling us what to do with our bodies," Bonneur began. "It's like oh my gosh, how am I going to teach her all these different things? And when do I teacher her all these different things? So it kind of unfolded naturally. So she helped me accept who I am and love who I am even more."
Bonneur, on top of being a mother and a full time educator, is also a four-time cornea transplant recipient. She said when her transplant surgery didn't take multiple times, she realized that she was also battling to accept her body for what it was. She also talked about finding grace, and time to accept the way we are all handling ourselves during the pandemic.
"What's going on in the world right now, there are so many people who are focused on the wrong things--on the differences that we have," Bonneur said. "The differences are very important because they make us who we are. However, we are all human, and at the very end of the day for example, that anatomy page--it talks about the human body-- guess what, our bones are similar, our bodies are similar. We all have blood."
So the Bonneurs have released into the world, a children's book with a message that everybody could use, especially right now. Kindness. It just might be one of the small things that can help us through the pandemic.
"There's a great message we can take fro the book--about loving each other and most importantly loving ourselves too," she said.
You can also follow the Bonneurs on social media by finding @loveharperhunter.