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Reviewed by Lois Henderson for Readers' Favorite
The picture book and early reader My Protest, written by Linda Gaston-Bessellieu and co-authored by Tawana Bessellieu and Jaliyah Bessellieu-Webb, describes from a first-person perspective how a little girl, Jaliyah, together with her mother, aunt, and cousin Camille, attends a Black Lives Matter protest. She describes how they walked together, carrying poster signs supporting the aim of the protest, which was to help prevent black people from getting killed. Jaliyah describes how they all wore masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. She also shares the instructions given by the leader of the march and tells of the helpful bystanders’ reactions. The book ends with a photo of Jaliyah and her mother picketing in the street.
Based on the real-life story of her granddaughter’s experience of a Black Lives Matter protest, My Protest is Linda Gaston-Bessellieu’s first book, although, from the fluent and exciting way in which it is written, she could be an experienced author with scores of books to her name. As a keen picketer myself, and having run foul of the police a few times in a similar context, namely in anti-apartheid demonstrations, I was really pleased to find a work that so clearly and simply describes what it feels like to be part of a passive protest. For those who feel threatened by such demonstrations, this children’s book should be a real eye-opener, with it serving to dispel many myths and fears related to such socio-political activity. If you are sympathetic to the cause and wish to encourage the development of a more accepting and understanding attitude toward an issue like this, why not buy a few copies to pass on to those around you (especially those with young children) who need some awareness building in this direction?