Review Blog

Jan 22 2020

I am perfectly designed by Karamo Brown with Jason Brown

cover image

Illus. by Anoosha Syed. Macmillan Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781529036152. 40pp.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. American media personality, author, and activist Karamo Brown began his career in 2004 on the MTV The Real world; Philadelphia, becoming the first openly gay black man on a reality show. He is now a cultural icon, heading the Netflix show, Queer Eye.
This book I am perfectly designed, celebrates diversity and empowers children as it relates the story of a boy and his father walking and talking through their day. Based on the interaction between Karamo and his son, Jason, the book brims with understanding. Each step is full of love and celebration, companionship and family. Beginning with breakfast the chat between father and son recalls their earlier years, as the boy remarks his head seems so big in photos, but dad replies, it was perfectly designed for you. This conversation sets the tone of the book, the dialogue between the two, father and son, the child talking about past events, dad reminding him all along that he is perfectly designed. Climbing a tree in the ark, or playing on the swing, dad reminds him that he is perfectly designed to explore the world. When the boy becomes lost or sad, he is told that he is perfectly designed and wonderful to his dad no matter how he feels.
The boy then talks about the future when he has left home and dad grows older, and the two decide that roles will be reversed, that the boy is perfectly designed to care for his father.
Each page reflects the sentiment expressed in the text, as the illustrations are full of love and family, reminding readers what they do with their dads, from talking over the breakfast table, to walking to the park, celebrating Halloween, playing in the playground, climbing a tree, meeting friends at the ice cream stall, playing with other children in the street.
The illustrations by Canadian artist, Syed, bubble with family life, displaying enthusiastic relationships between parents and children, siblings and friends, reflecting the diversity of modern life.
The smallest detail will be picked out by eager eyes: tying shoelaces, taking a photo with the phone, the age groups spotted in the streets, the warmth of a family picnic, the market stalls, the diversity of building styles. Each caught and held my attention, making me want to read the book again. The endpapers too will draw the eyes of the readers as they see themselves within one of the family groups, and spot their friends and relatives.
This is a enticing story showcasing the loving relationship between a father and his son, modelling the things they do together, the times that will have as a family.
A clip on the Macmillan website shows Karama and his son, talking about why they wrote the book.
Themes: Diversity, Self image, Confidence, Inclusion, Communication.
Fran Knight

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