Beautiful You, Beautiful Me

Owlkids. Oct. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771474528.
PreS-Gr 1–Amid loving interactions with her mother, Izzy suddenly begins to notice contrasts between their physical features—her skin is darker, Mama’s is lighter; her hair is curlier, Mama’s is straighter. Her startling realizations cause flickers of uncertainty. What do these differences mean for two people who share such a close connection? Fortunately, Mama answers this worry with an easy warmth: “You’re part of me,/ and I’m part of you./ I’m beautiful like me,/ and you’re beautiful like you.” Her gentle refrain, placing equal emphasis on their shared qualities and their unique traits, provides a welcome reassurance. Later, an afternoon walk brings many examples of different-looking mothers and children from nature: a white duck swimming with yellow ducklings, a red-breasted robin feeding gray chicks, a sandy cat caring for a litter of variegated kittens. The family depicted in the story mirrors Spillett-Sumner’s personal experience growing up with both Cree and Trinidadian ancestry. Though the story’s premise and structure rely on (however briefly) problematizing African American features, a final interaction somewhat mitigates the effect: Mama sweetly remarks on their different eye colors, allowing Izzy to take the role of empathetic listener. Perera’s engaging art sets the expressive mother-daughter duo amid bright indoor and outdoor environments, which give way to jubilant bursts of floral energy whenever they recite their tender mantra.
VERDICT This could give rise to story hour discussions of differences that matter and those that do not; this sweet portrait of a mother-daughter relationship may work best for one-on-one read-alouds.

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