Beautiful You, Beautiful Me is a vibrantly illustrated picture book written by award-winning Inninewak (Cree) and Trinidadian author Tasha Spillett-Sumner. The book follows Izzy, a young Black girl who worries about the differences between her appearance and that of her mother – for example, Izzy’s skin is darker than her mother’s, and her mother has straight hair while Izzy’s is curly. Izzy’s mother reassures her that looking different doesn’t mean that they’re not family, or that there’s something wrong with the way Izzy looks. They are both, as the title says, beautiful. This is solidified for Izzy when she and her mother go to the park and Izzy sees that ducklings, kittens, and baby chicks can look different from their mothers as well.
The colourful, modern aesthetic of Toronto-based South Asian Canadian artist Salini Perera’s illustrations adds depth to the book, drawing out the close relationship between mother and daughter in the text. Perera switches between fully illustrated scenes and images of Izzy and her mom set against fantastical imagery, evoking the emotions behind the story rather than depicting them literally. This bright and clean art style keeps the book, which might otherwise become saccharine, vibrant and fun.
Spillett-Sumner’s prose is lyrical – although not rhyming – and reveals her grounding in poetry. Her use of language is clear, concise, and evocative. Although Beautiful You, Beautiful Me is not a complex narrative, it is an important addition to a growing canon of diverse picture books that address the real-world concerns of children of colour. Izzy’s experience may not be universal, but it is eminently relatable for anyone who has felt out of place. It is a story about feeling insecure and receiving reassurance that you are loved and belong.
Beautiful You, Beautiful Me is well-suited for reading aloud, especially for parents of multiracial families whose children might be wrestling with some of the same concerns as Izzy. Parents, teachers, and librarians invested in making sure children grow up understanding the diversity of experiences and families in the world should also consider purchasing this book. It is an excellent addition to any collection.