Black Lives Matter: Read a review of When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Black Lives Matter: Read a review of When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Australian author/illustrator Maxine Beneba Clarke was inspired to create this picture book when talking with her extended family on a video hook-up. Seeing her young relatives made her think about how to explain the Black Lives Matter movement, and how to help them understand what they were hearing and seeing following the death of George Floyd, the African American man killed this year when a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Maxine wanted to create a book that would explain what was happening around the world without causing anxiety and trauma, especially for children who see people like themselves on TV or the internet and wonder what is happening. This book is written from a place of positivity and support, demonstrating that Black Lives Matter is about fighting for what’s right, supporting each other, finding joy and common purpose in gathering together for the betterment of all. 

Maxine is both author and illustrator of this book which has a distinct 60’s vibe due to the colours and style of illustrations, evoking the link to the civil rights movement of the 60’s. Colours are bold and solid, images are square and definite. There is purpose and emotion in every image, accompanied by a restrained amount of text. 

These are simple messages about a complex problem and this book will be a useful tool for families, teachers and librarians and any community association that promotes diversity. The messages are joyful and uplifting, celebrating the strength of collaborative action through music, protest and dance. 

Written from the perspective of a parent explaining to a little one, Maxine has crafted a story that is universal, pertinent to any country and every human being. It is a bold statement, as evidenced by the title of the book. Often children’s books soften the message but this book shouts out its message loud and clear. 

Maxine is a popular author and commentator of Afro-Caribbean descent. She has won a slew of Australian awards for her writing for adults and children. It is perfect for read-alouds and discussion. This gorgeous large hardback book is suitable for children of any age. 

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Publisher details

When We Say Black Lives Matter
Maxine Beneba Clarke
Children’s Picture Book
24 November, 2020


From birth to the end of school, in joy and in sorrow, on the trumpet and the djembe, at home and in the community, a black child's parents remind him why Black Lives Matter. A gorgeous and essential picture book for children of all ages from bestselling and award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke. In When We Say Black Lives Matter, a black child's parents explain what the term Black Lives Matter means to them: in protest and song, in joy and in sorrow. 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 - including America, Australia, Germany, Barbados and England. - Maxine Beneba Clarke, on writing WHEN WE SAY BLACK LIVES MATTER
Maxine Beneba Clarke
About the author

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of 9 books, including the Indie and ABIA award-winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the memoir The Hate Race, the Boston Globe/Horn Prize and CBCA winning picture book The Patchwork Bike, and the recently released picture book Fashionista. She lives in Melbourne's glorious, diverse western suburbs, and has met many kids like Taj in her neighbourhood, who've journeyed to Australia in search of safe haven. Some struggle to fit in, but just like Taj, most eventually find their light.

Books by Maxine Beneba Clarke


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