Friday, July 1, 2022

Book Review: Sarah Rising

A young Black girl is kneeling down to pick up a Monarch. There is a group of police over her shoulder on the left and a group of community members with signs and raised hands on the right. The title Sarah Rising is at the top of the book cover.

Sarah Rising

Author: Ty Chapman

Illustrator: DeAnn Wiley

Publisher: Beaming Books

Availability: On shelves now

Review copy: Final copy via publisher

Summary: Sarah starts her day like any other day: she eats her toast and feeds her bugs. But today isn't a day like any other day. Today, her dad brings her to a protest to speak out against police violence against Black people. When Sarah spots a beautiful monarch butterfly and follows it through the crowd, she finds herself inside the no-man's land between the line of police and protesters. In the moments that follow, Sarah is confronted with the cruelty of those who are supposed to protect her and learns what it feels like to protect and be protected.

Inspired by the protests that happened during the Minneapolis Uprising after the police killing of George Floyd, Sarah Rising provides a child's-eye view of a protest and offers an opportunity for children to talk about why people take to the streets to protest racial injustice. Readers will gain a new appreciation for how important it is to be part of a community of people who protect each other.

Back matter includes a note from the author about his experience growing up as a Black boy in the Twin Cities, information about the Minneapolis Uprising, and practical ways kids can get involved in activism.

My Thoughts: As the story opens, we see a caring young girl who is very interested in her bugs. She's getting ready for school, but Sarah and the reader learn that there is a protest happening. There are starting to be more books for young readers about protests and police violence, but this is definitely an area that could use more representation. A book like this would be helpful to start discussions in a school or home before or after a protest in a community whether or not the children attend. The story explains exactly why the protest is happening and puts a lot of focus on community members being there for each other and how they can support those around them. 

As someone who recently lived in the midwest, I know this will be great for those in MN especially, but also for neighboring states. I appreciated seeing the Hmong 4 BLM sign in one of the illustrations. There are many Hmong Americans in the midwest but they aren't often having representation in children's literature. The author's note at the end also made a point that too many adults in the midwest still need to see. He shared that in living in Minnesota, he "also grew to see that cruelty toward Black people was not just a southern issue." In the note, there are facts that support some of the statements of Sarah's father in the text. And again in the note, he emphasized the point that people came together and were working to keep each other safe. There are harsh realities within the text, but the amount of caring present balances that out a bit. 

Recommendation: I would recommend this for any public or school library. I would also recommend it to parents who would like to have a way to guide discussions regarding police violence and protests. There is a list of ways for young people to do something to help and a discussion guide so readers and their caregivers have support after reading and possibilities of actions to take. I can see this being useful for a lot of young people. 


Tara Lazar interviews the author

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