I received this book for free from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Illustrator: Maxine Beneba Clarke
Published by Candlewick Press on September 14, 2021
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Diversity & Multicultural, Juvenile Fiction / Family / Parents, Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Prejudice & Racism
Source: Candlewick Press
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Bookshop
In a powerful, poetic missive, award-winning author-illustrator Maxine Beneba Clarke celebrates the meaning behind the words Black Lives Matter.
Little one, when we say Black Lives Matter,
we’re saying Black people are wonderful-strong.
That we deserve to be treated with basic respect,
and that history’s done us wrong. . . .
Darling, when we sing that Black Lives Matter,
and we’re dancing through the streets,
we’re saying: fear will not destroy our joy,
defiance in our feet.
In this joyful exploration of the Black Lives Matter motto, a loving narrator relays to a young Black child the strength and resonance behind the words. In family life, through school and beyond, the refrains echo and gain in power, among vignettes of protests and scenes of ancestors creating music on djembe drums. With deeply saturated illustrations rendered in jewel tones, Maxine Beneba Clarke offers a gorgeous, moving, and essential picture book.
I had the opportunity to join in the fun celebrating the 2022 Multicultural Children’s Day (Jan. 28, 2022) and I am so excited to share with your my review for the book that I was matched with for the celebration. I was matched with When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke. Clarke is an award-winning Australian writer and slam poet champion of Afro-Caribbean descent.
This is a children’s book that features thought-provoking poetry and beautiful illustrations. Through the words of parents to a child, the book explains what Black Lives Matter means to the parents and what they are conveying when they use that phrase. It’s one generation explaining to another how they are continuing the fight for freedom, respect and peace. This book does an awesome job of conveying the thoughts and emotions attached to the phrase Black Lives Matter for Black people.
This book balances the pain with the joy involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. “Darling, when we sing that Black Lives Matter, and we’re dancing through the streets, we’re saying: fear will not destroy our joy, defiance in our feet.” I loved the different verbs used by the parents when talking about the different ways they are expressing themselves. The authors uses the words: say, call, scream, sing, whisper, sob, bellow, smile, laugh, know to illustrate the many different emotions attached to the fight for Black Lives Matter. This is a wonderful book for children and parents to read together.
I loved the illustrations in this book. The inside cover is a beautiful illustration of a stained glass window featuring a Black Lives Matter protest. The drawings are simple but powerful, conveying a range of emotions that are reflected in the poetry. The simplicity also invites anyone reading it to see themselves in the images.
This is a great opportunity to explore the Black Lives Matter movement with children. This book covers heavy emotions, like the dangers Black people face on a daily basis because of racism, and it also covers the joy that is embedded in the movement and living life. I mentioned above that the author uses lots of different verbs everytime she begins a new sentence about Black Lives Matter. I would explore those choices more in-depth with students and explore how nothing is one-dimensional, even if one group tries to characterize it as such. What are the parents conveying to their child every time they use a new verb in the phrase, When we ________ Black Lives Matter? It’s also a great opportunity to discuss human rights, humanity, joy in living, finding joy when you are surrounded by pain.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022 (1/28/22) is in its 9th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.
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