Dedicated to her grandchildren, It Takes a Village is a picture book

The former US secretary of state and presidential candidate has published her first picture book, It Takes a Village, a 117-word adaptation of her best-selling 1996 book of the same name.

Unlike Hillary Clinton’s memoir, What Happened, the book contains no revelations about Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump; Clinton herself does not make an appearance. Aimed at preschoolers, It Takes a Village offers a universal, unifying message. It captures perfectly Clinton’s vision of a multicultural America working toward a constructive goal.

The book begins with essentially a blank canvas - a stretch of denuded ground - on which a group of people set out to build something beautiful and useful. Not a health-care plan or a safe space for refugees, but a playground.

Over the course of 28 pages, Clinton explains how to turn this vision into a reality. Not surprisingly, “it takes a village”, the African proverb at the centre of Clinton’s previous book, is the underlying message here.

The children have ideas; the adults have ideas - they must learn from each other, share, be kind and caring and find “the right tool to get the job done”.

There are the literal tools - ropes, hammers, shovels - but also the philosophical ones - “the village needs every one of us to help and every one of us to believe in each other.” There are faces of all shades here, helpers of all ages and abilities.

Despite the name of the author or the American flag-themed endpapers, the book avoids being overtly political. But the author’s note, written in the spring of 2016, haunts.

“Now more than ever,” Clinton writes, “we need to support children and families. And when the news is grim and or the odds seem long, look into the faces of children you know, and imagine what kind of country and world awaits them... This book is meant to spark a conversation with our youngest about what children can do to help make the world what they hope it will be.”

Dedicated to her grandchildren, It Takes a Village the picture book will now go head-to-head with another heavyweight in that category: Chelsea Clinton’s best-seller, She Persisted. Surely that’s a contest in which Hillary won’t mind coming second.

R146 from www.loot.co.za