Little Black Lives Matter

Triangle Square. Jan. 2023. 52p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781644211878.
K-Gr 2–In this celebration of Black life and achievement, the narrator invites a young Black child to “turn away” from the constant barrage of brutality and oppression in the news and to “remember the hopeful words of Sam Cooke, “A Change is Gonna Come.” The narrator goes on to remind readers that Black lives matter, and that many Black children have grown up to fight for the world as it should be; the spotlight moves to 15 changemakers and revolutionaries, often in vibrant spreads. Included among them are some who routinely appear in books for children (such as Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman) as well as lesser-featured icons such as Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Marsha P. Johnson, and Fred Hampton. A rhyming quatrain introduces each person, though the lines are oddly broken in the middle with a quotation. Some odes are more effective—and more rhythmically pleasing—than others, and the phrase “little Black life” repeats in each one. While this refrain seeks to connect young readers with the young people these historical figures once were, the repetition of the word “little” at times feels diminishing. The book closes on an empowering note, however, encouraging readers to remember that “the greatest life you can lead belongs to you” and that “you matter here.”
VERDICT An affirming title to inspire young readers and to expand the traditional canon of Black biography for children.

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