A proud and prodigiously talented son of North Preston, Keonté Beals has now teamed with his younger brother Antonio Beals to gift readers (ages 2 & up) with a delightful book. And dig this—the dulcet-voiced singer/songwriter of albums such as King (the title track probes toxic masculinity)—also produced the vibrant illustrations for I Am Perfectly Me.
“We want this book to inspire kids of all races, sizes, genders and backgrounds to know that they are beautiful,” Beals writes in an author’s note. “Self-love is the most important thing in life and should be instilled in children even before physical birth.”
To that end, the rhyming volume showcases a diverse group of youngsters, all of whom express pride in themselves. “I love my brown skin, and my beautiful brown eyes,” notes a girl readying for school. “My curly black hair, with a poof just the right size.”
“I have to wear glasses, because it is hard for me to see,” adds a bespectacled boy whose #6 basketball jersey honours LeBron James (from his Miami Heat days, and starting again next season with the Lakers). “My mom says they make me beautiful, I am perfectly me.”
A child of Asian ancestry regales readers with her love of the outdoors: “The park is my favourite. I feel so at home there. As the wind blows calmly, through my silky fine hair.”
In an admirable move, the Beals brothers “keep it real” and address grief in the release: “Both my mom and dad, have went on to heaven,” a character notes. “I still feel them everyday, guiding me in the right direction.”
In a nod to healthy eating, the authors include images of fresh fruit on the pages. They also tempt readers with a description of an intriguing snack: “I love cinnamon fries, with salt from the sea. With lots and lots of mustard, I am perfectly me.”
Set against the backdrop of a global conversation about inclusion, the volume’s message affirms children of every ethnicity: “I have a big imagination, and many beautiful dreams. I love the person I am, I am perfectly me.”