When We Say Black Lives Matter (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
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.
About the Author
Maxine Beneba Clarke, a writer and slam poet champion of Afro-Caribbean descent, is the author of The Patchwork Bike, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd. About When We Say Black Lives Matter, she says: “I see this picture book as an act of Black love—I was inspired to write and create it when thinking about how to explain the concept of Black Lives Matter to the young African diaspora kids in my extended family, living in over eight different countries across the world.” Maxine Beneba Clarke lives in Australia.
The Afro-Caribbean slam poet created this picture book to explain Black Lives Matter to her extended family, living in more than eight different countries around the world.
—The New York Times Book Review
A powerful, painful, and honest celebration of being Black in the world today. This book not only affirms young Black children, but calls on all children to acknowledge the importance of Black lives and the Black Lives Matter movement. Without shying away from painful history and hard truths, Clarke, an Australian writer and illustrator of Afro-Caribbean descent, raises the call to bellow, sing, laugh, and cry, “Black Lives Matter”. . . a book that deserves a spot in every library.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Clarke’s text is poignant and mesmerizing, with design elements that raise the text to an artistic level, shaping it around the art and highlighting active and emotional words in color: enough, dancing, radiant, precious. The art is truly outstanding, gripping the heart from the very first spread and not letting go. . . . This slim book contains a necessary and healing exploration of our current moment that will remain relevant for decades to come. An astonishing work of art and a crucial addition to every bookshelf.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A gorgeous and moving tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. . . Clarke’s bold, saturated illustrations arrestingly spill their rich colors across entire pages and use simple figures and silhouettes to convey vast emotions and moments of bravery, fear, and triumph. . . . A stand-out offering that celebrates, affirms, and supports efforts to overcome adversity.
—Booklist (starred review)
With assured rhythm and poetic grace, Clarke offers this stirring epistle from a couple to their growing Black child, patiently enlightening them on the meaning of Black Lives Matter. . . At once a solemn eulogy, stirring paean, and tender triumph of a book.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Through lyrical verse that is a mixture of ode and anthem, Clarke uses bold artwork to emphasize key words for verbal and visual impact. . . Clarke’s chalk and oil illustrations on textured board complement the poetry in their simplicity but do not detract from the depth of the message.
—School Library Connection (starred review)
Poignant, timely. . . balances the hope of social change with the pain of past and present trauma, creating a joyful celebration of Black art and culture while fully acknowledging the violence and tragedy that marks the very real experiences of many Black people in the U.S.. . . . a compassionate, exultant, and honest look at a social movement and its motivations and a guaranteed conversation starter with youngsters.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
[Clarke’s] poetry bursts off the page. . . Her jewel-colored, exuberant, emotional illustrations are a wonder.
—The Buffalo News