Times are such that 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 by policemen (including George Floyd), and the protests that follow.
Sarah Rising is a new picture book by Ty Chapman that addresses the harsh reality of such random, violent deaths and the outraged protests designed to bring about change. In the book, young Sarah's innocent world is turned upside down when her father tells her that the police have killed another black person. He tells Sarah they are going to do their part to stand against this violence by participating in a protest march.
Sarah is not used to so many angry, focused faces, and she clings to her father's hand as they march to the cries of "No justice, no peace." Sarah soon becomes distracted by a Monarch butterfly that flutters off through the crowd, and she follows it. In no time, Sarah realizes that she is now separated from her father and alone in the shouting crowd. When an angry policeman swats the lovely butterfly to the ground, Sarah rushes to rescue it. That's when the policeman yells for her to get back and Sarah feels the full force of his hatred. She wants her father, but she has no idea where he is. 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 layered book that deals with several sensitive subjects, like death, oppression, and extreme racism. It helps that the book is written in first person, and is therefore told through the eyes of an innocent child. This way, 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, even though they officially have the law on their side. 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 of this book appears on our sister site, Picture Book Depot: https:// picturebookdepot.com/2022/sarah-rising/