Behind the Book: The Most Perfect You
last updated 27 June 2022
Bright welcomed Tamisha Anthony recently and she has taken off with a meaningful and special title Most Perfect You, published in May with Penguin Random House. A story of loving yourself for exactly who you are, this title will resonate with many young readers. We had the chance to sit down and hear more about the process in creating this book from Tamisha, we hope you enjoy!
What made you want to take on this project? How did you develop the characters overtime?
Most Perfect You was the very first book manuscript I read when I began working with my agent, Anne, at Bright. I couldn’t believe how spot on the text was for me. It immediately reminded me of my relationship between my mother and me when I was a child. I was always in doubt about my skin color, hair, and other attributes as a young girl.
I teared up reading the manuscript and knew I wanted this to be my first children’s book project. While working on this project the manuscript constantly reminded me during my moments of doubt that I, Tamisha Anthony, was also perfect just as I am and the work I create will be too.
When developing the characters of Mom and Irie, I looked at photos of the author, Jazmyn Simon, and her daughter Kennedy Irie on Instagram. The manuscript is quite universal but I knew it had come from a personal experience, so I wanted to put the essence of the “real people” into the illustration as much as possible. I also looked at other “cool and current” moms, such as Gabrielle Union or Tracy Ellis Ross’ character from Black-ish, to get a sense of what the mom character would wear.
When first creating Irie, I had the front of her hair braided. I thought it was beautiful when the author saw how important it was for Irie’s hair to be “natural” and not in a “hair style”. Irie covering up a hairstyle that her mother had taken the time to do would be a different issue opposed to Irie just not liking her own hair. I love moments like this where I am able to dive deeper into the text, storytelling, and characters.
What is the message behind Most Perfect You and how did you illustrate it in order to further tell its story?
The message that Jazmyn Simon has shining brightly throughout Most Perfect You,/i> is that any child (or adult) struggling to accept themselves inside and out are perfect just as they are. It is a message we all need to hear sometimes.
Illustrating this title was a beautiful challenge. I wanted to deliver the powerful feelings the words conjured, but also didn’t want the illustrations to be cliché. Jazmyn’s description of the rainbow of skin colors gave me a jumpstart that this story took place in a magical realm. I knew I could go almost anywhere to demonstrate different hair, eyes, noses, and smiles. In fact, there was an entire universe of planets where the mom character went to collect all these special things about Irie. For me, each page where the author described being shown all the different skin tones, noses, and smiles, became a different planet. On one spread you can see from a distance the array of different planets for ears, dimples, eyelashes, etc. This is one of my favorite spreads. As Jazmyn says, each and every person is made special and I loved creating a universe where this happens.
Do you have a specific spread that means a lot to you from the book? If so, why?
The first spread means so much to me! Can’t tell you how many times I reworked it. I felt like the first spread had to be strong - not only visually but in the connection that Irie and her mom had from afar. It is also where I first inserted a bunny. Anyone who knows me a little understands that I LOVE rabbits. I used to have a pet rabbit named Crabcake who was the most charming and supportive animal I ever had. I felt it was necessary to give Irie a loving and supportive little bunny too.
Miss last month’s Behind the Book blog on Cress Watercress illustrated by David Litchfield? Click here to read all about it! Check back each month to read more about our artists and how they came to shine so bright.