When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Multicultural Children’s Book Day – Jan. 28,2022


When We Say Black Lives Matter

Maxine Beneba Clarke, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 7, 2021

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes: Family, Social themes, Diversity, Multicultural

Opening/ Synopsis:

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.

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 explain why Black Lives Matter.

A gorgeous and essential picture book for children of all ages from best-selling and award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke.

Why I like this book:

Maxine Beneba Clarke’s When We Say Black Lives Matter, is a  powerful tribute to the African-American experience and will fill its readers with pride and joy. It is an important picture book for families with young children regardless of their race or ethnicity.   

Clarke, who is of Afro-Caribbean descent, composed this empowering poetic ode for her extended family, who live in more than eight different countries around the globe. It is an honest look at a social movement that encompasses a history of pain and struggle, resilience and strength. But it also offers a glimpse of hope for the future. 

Her rich and colorful illustrations are done in watercolor pencil and collage. They beautifully support the poetic text and remind me of stain glass windows. She uses her art to emphasize key action words in bold colors — respect, raise, enough, whisper, sob, bellow, drive, stand, and laugh.  One particular scene carefully depicts the darkness of persecution as it shows a simple white outline of legs with a black/yellow stripe marking off an area and a woman weeping.

This book is one that every Black family will treasure. It belongs in every school library.

Resources: Check out the Teacher’s Guide for When We Say Black Lives Matter. There are excellent discussion questions, important words that children can use to create their own artwork, and suggestions for role-playing.  They fulfill Common Core requirements in the classroom.

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an award-winning Australian writer and slam poet champion of Afro-Caribbean descent. Her poetry and short fiction have won several prizes, including an Australian Independent Bookseller Indie Book Award and a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her debut picture book, The Patchwork Bike, won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and was named a New York Public Library Best Books for Kids selection. Maxine Beneba Clarke lives in Australia.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.


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.

MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

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MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

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Alva Sachs, Brianna Carter, Ebony Zay Zay, Rita Bhandari, Gwen Jackson, Lois Petren/The 5 Enchanted Mermaids, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Josh Funk, Afsaneh Moradian, Eugenia Chu, Maritza Martínez Mejía, Diana Huang, Kathleen Burkinshaw, CultureGroove, Sandra Elaine Scott, Dorena Williamson, Veronica Appleton, Alejandra Domenzain, Lauren Muskovitz and Sandfish Publishing, Tonya Duncan Ellis, Kimberly Lee, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, Nancy Tupper Ling, Winsome Hudson-Bingham, Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett, Sivan Hong, Michael Genhart, Debbie Dadey, Elizabeth Cureton, Stephanie Wildman, Maryann Jacob, Sherri Maret, Rochelle Melander, Dia Mixon, Kiyanda and Benjamin Young, Shereen Rahming, Linda Thornburg and Katherine Archer,  Rebecca Flansburg and BA Norrgard , Maxine Schur  Natalie McDonald-Perkins

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FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Diversity Book Lists & Activities for Teachers and Parents

Homeschool Diverse Kidlit Booklist & Activity Kit

FREE Teacher Classroom Activism and Activists Kit

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FREE Teacher Classroom Kindness Kit

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FREE Teacher Classroom Raising Awareness on Systemic Racism in America Classroom Kit

Gallery of Our Free Posters

FREE Diversity Book for Classrooms Program

Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party! Be sure and follow MCBD and Make A Way Media on Twitter!  We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.               

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

23 thoughts on “When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke

  1. Wow. This sounds like such an important book, Patricia. I’m going to order a copy. I was surprised to read about the author and find that she is Australia. Makes me want to read it even more. Thanks for your review. Multicultural Children’s Book Day is such a great event to be involved in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds great! A perfect read for a teacher read-aloud. I’ve never understood why the phrase “Black Lives Matter” provokes such animosity for some. It doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter; it means these lives are of equal importance.


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