SHE WAS ONLY NINE YEARS OLD, too young to walk alone to the store to buy candy with the $3 clutched in her hand. Eventually, her 17-year-old cousin, Darnella Frazier, agreed to accompany Judeah Reynolds to Cup Foods. That decision on May 25, 2020, would forever change their lives. And the world.
What happened in Minneapolis that evening—the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers—is the subject of a powerful new children’s picture book, A Walk to the Store by Judeah Reynolds as told to Sheletta Brundidge and Lily Coyle.
When I learned of the book’s September 2022 release by St. Paul-based Beaver’s Pond Press, I knew immediately that I needed to read this recounting of Judeah’s witness to Floyd’s death. The cousins arrived on an unfolding scene outside Cup Foods where Floyd lay on the ground next to a squad car, a police officer pressing his knee into the 46-year-old’s neck. Judeah, Darnella and other bystanders pleaded with the police to stop while Darnella recorded the scene on her cellphone and then shared that video online. She won a 2021 Pulitzer Prize for that documentation.
While this book recounts the death of George Floyd from a child’s perspective, it is much more than a basic retelling. The story also reveals the trauma Judeah experienced. The sadness. The difficulty sleeping. The bad dreams. The replaying of Floyd’s killing in her mind.
But this is also a story of strength and hope and about being brave enough to speak up. To say something. To let your voice be heard. To effect change.
I heard Judeah’s determined voice in her words. I saw it, too, in Darcy Bell-Myers’ art, which reinforces the story with strong, message-filled illustrations. This book is empowering for children who read or hear this story. And it’s equally as impactful for adults.
At the end of the book is a list—How to Help Children Process a Traumatic Event. I appreciate the inclusion of those 10 suggestions given Judeah did, indeed, experience trauma. Her family even moved out of Minnesota.
As I finished reading A Walk to the Store, I considered how ironic that young Judeah wore a colorful shirt emblazoned with the word LOVE as she stood on the sidewalk outside Cup Foods, witness to George Floyd’s murder.
© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
this looks like an amazing book for so many reasons. it is impossible not to cry and feel some of the feelings of that horrible event, even when just reading your post about the book. one’s life can change in an instant, and not always for the better. as soon as I read ‘cup foods’ in your post, I was brought back to that day. I cannot even imagine the trauma that everyone there that day had to endure, and especially so for a young person. what a powerful person Judeah is, to tell her story, with all that she was witness to, and to go on living, refusing to be silenced. to make sure the George Floyd will not be forgotten and to help other young people navigate their way through and past trauma. ❤
Your comments are spot on. This book is truly amazing. I deeply appreciate that this story has been told from a child’s perspective. And I appreciate the added tips on navigating trauma.
That it is…
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
You are welcome. I NEEDED to share this book with my readers.
And thank you for today’s really, really important posting – I hope it goes national, international
I appreciate that you value my work. I strive to make a difference in life, in this world, for the better.
It makes me sad that books like this are needed but I am glad resources like this are available.
I agree. Needed and thankful for resources.
Thank you for this book review. I can’t wait to read it. I am still waiting to get a copy of Fire and Ashes. Both of these book recommendations from you are not available to me at my beloved Northfield library!
Hopefully the Northfield library will order both books for their library. I do appreciate the ability to get books from other libraries, although often the wait is much longer than I like.
The book Fire and Ashes is available only in Faribault and Lanesboro, but it’s reserved for locals only. I cannot borrow the book at this time.
That’s frustrating. Did you ask Northfield to order it? I do that whenever I come across a book I think should be shelved locally.
Great review and such a timely book. It’s also perfect for the classroom as a resource for generating discussions.
I’ve had this review in draft for awhile and thought with MLK Day yesterday, this was an ideal time to publish. And, yes, this book would be a great classroom resource.