We live in a time where we cannot always protect the most innocent members of society from the harsh realities of life. One of those realities is the killing of unarmed Black Americans (including George Floyd, and many others) by policemen, and the protests that follow.
Sarah Rising, a new picture book by Ty Chapman, addresses the harsh reality of such random, violent deaths and the outraged protests designed to bring about change. In the book, young Sarah awakes to a typical morning of breakfast, feeding her pets, and preparing for school. Only, she is not going to school. Her father tells her they are going to a protest instead. He gives Sarah terrible news: the police have killed another black person, and he and Sarah are going to do their part to stand against this violence.
Sarah has to acclimate herself to the angry, focused faces in the crowd as she and her father march to the cries of “No justice, no peace.” Sarah becomes distracted by a Monarch butterfly. She wanders off, chasing the butterfly through the crowd. When an angry policeman swats it, Sarah rushes to rescue it. But when she moves too close to the policeman, he yells for her to get back. And it is then that Sarah realizes she is lost in the crowd and wonders how she will be reunited with her father. Will one of these shouting people show her the same kindness she shows the butterfly, and help her find her father?
Sarah Rising is a complex book that deals with the sensitive subjects of death, oppression, and extreme racism. Because it is told through the eyes of an innocent child, other young children will more easily understand that shouting protesters are not necessarily bad (even if the media paints them that way), and policemen are not always good. And while it is true that such realizations may prove confusing and even frightening to young children, this subject matter must be introduced as soon as possible to young children simply because that is the world we live in today. The prose is age-appropriate, and the illustrations by artist Deann Wiley capture the anger, shock, compassion and courage that are a part of every violent incident and the protest that follows it.
Use this book to introduce conversations about racism, police killings, protests, Black Lives Matter, and standing up for what one believes.
A similar review is shown on our sister site, The Black History Channel: https:// theblackhistorychannel.com/2022/sarah-rising/