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Twin Cities author releases children's book on social justice protests

With new book "Sarah Rising," author Ty Chapman aims to provide families and educators with a tool to help children process racial injustice and community response.
Credit: KARE 11 News
Ty Chapman at book signing for Sarah Rising.

MINNEAPOLIS — Two years ago, Ty Chapman felt he had to do something more than protest. After George Floyd's murder, like many, he felt called to action. 

Chapman, who had spent most of his artistic career as a puppeteer, had already begun dabbling with writing children's books. Now he faced a project that felt immediate.

"I thought a lot about the historical events that I had gone through in my youth, and the first thing I thought about was 9/11," Chapman said. "I was five when 9/11 took place and I had no real context for what was happening. I just wanted to make sure that the uprising wasn't that for the kids of today."

He began the process of writing Sarah Rising: a story of a young Black girl who attends her very first social justice protest with her father, in response to police killings of Black people. In the book, the young girl, at first scared of the protest, learns the importance of "standing up for what's right."

He said it was cathartic but emotionally challenging as well.

"There were moments when I had to put the project down for a little bit and just process," Chapman said.

But his drive to provide families and educators with a tool help kids understand racial injustice carried him through.

"It can be hard to just sit your kids down and [say], 'We're going to talk about police killings now,'" Chapman said. "It's a little bit easier when you have a book that you can read together."

Credit: KARE 11
The book launch for Sarah Rising took place at Moon Palace Books Tuesday.

In the book, throughout the protest, Sarah gets scared. She loses track of her father, and she sees a police officer swat at and harm a monarch butterfly. Chapman says the metaphor is personal. He's from Texas, and at a young age, his mother moved their family to Minnesota after someone committed a hate crime in the area they lived. She hoped Minnesota would be safer.

"I've always had an affinity for monarchs because they fly from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and back," he said. "That journey always resonated with me on a personal level. Beyond that, I was thinking of imagery for Black royalty. Black kings and queens being cut down."

The book is illustrated by DeAnn Wiley, an artist with whom Chapman was excited to collaborate.

"Big shout out to DeAnn Wiley, who did an amazing job with it," Chapman said. "There's one spread in the book where it's Sarah being reunited with her father and you see murals of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the background. It hits hard, but it's haunting in the best way."

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Credit: DeAnn Wiley
Illustrator DeAnn Wiley, founder of DeeLashee Artistry.

Chapman says his other favorite part is the ending, when the monarch heals, and Sarah releases it back into nature.

"I expect a lot of Black families to have this book," he said. "My hope is that a lot of families that aren't Black have this book and are able to talk about this issue, because these are conversations that are already happening in Black households. I'm really hopeful that this can open up conversations in different communities."

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