Reviews for Nelson Mandela

Booklist Reviews 2012 September #2
Starting with the full-page cover portrait, this glowing picture-book biography offers a celebratory introduction to Nelson Mandela's life for young readers. Clear free verse and handsome, unframed paintings follow the iconic leader from his tribal childhood and his work as a young city lawyer through his political leadership against the brutality of apartheid, his long imprisonment, and then the triumph of his election as president of his country. The story doesn't mention conflicts both political (the splits in the anti-apartheid movement) and personal (the bitter rift with his daughters), as well as the continuing inequality South Africans face. Still, words and images bring close the cruel apartheid segregation in daily life, including one double-page spread of Cape Town's glorious beaches with the sign that reads White Area. Then there is the view of prisoners on Robben Island hammering rocks into dust. In contrast, the final pages show today's nonsegregated beaches and people of all races standing together free at last. A long final note fills in more. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With an internationally beloved leader as its subject and a multi-award-winning artist as its creator, this title is sure to be on every library's must-purchase list. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Moving swiftly through crucial moments in Mandela's life, from childhood tragedy to his outcry against apartheid to his nearly thirty-year imprisonment, release, and eventual presidency, this pictorial biography aptly honors the South African revolutionary. Nelson's signature large-scale portraits capture both the strength and emotions of his subject--particularly the text-less cover featuring Mandela's visage with a dignified expression. Bib.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #1
An inspirational ode to the life of the great South African leader by an award-winning author and illustrator. Mandela's has been a monumental life, a fact made clear on the front cover, which features an imposing, full-page portrait. The title is on the rear cover. His family gave him the Xhosa name Rolihlahla, but his schoolteacher called him Nelson. Later, he was sent to study with village elders who told him stories about his beautiful and fertile land, which was conquered by European settlers with more powerful weapons. Then came apartheid, and his protests, rallies and legal work for the cause of racial equality led to nearly 30 years of imprisonment followed at last by freedom for Mandela and for all South Africans. "The ancestors, / The people, / The world, / Celebrated." Nelson's writing is spare, poetic, and grounded in empathy and admiration. His oil paintings on birch plywood are muscular and powerful. Dramatic moments are captured in shifting perspectives; a whites-only beach is seen through a wide-angle lens, while faces behind bars and faces beaming in final victory are masterfully portrayed in close-up. A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #3

Nelson's (I Have a Dream) large, luminous, and almost photographic paintings make this an extremely powerful picture-book biography of South Africa's first black president. The wordless cover alone is arresting, as an older Mandela gazes serenely at readers (the book's title and Nelson's author/illustrator credit appear on the back). From a silhouette of Mandela (born Rolihlahla, which means "troublemaker") as a boy play fighting with sticks on a country hillside to a portrait of him as a bearded young man staring out from behind prison bars, Nelson's pictures are an immediate focal point, but also help tell the story. The straightforward narrative is broken up like verse ("The state vowed to put Nelson in jail/ and he went underground./ He wore different disguises/ and lived in the shadows"), clearly explaining the concept of apartheid and the efforts of Mandela and others to fight it. Concluding author notes offer more details about Mandela's life. It's a solid biography in its own right, but thanks to Nelson's characteristically stunning paintings, it soars. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

Gr 1-5--This picture-book biography matches Mandela's outsize achievements with large, powerful images, resulting in a presentation that will seize and hold readers' attention. The front cover features a portrait of Mandela that fills the space. His pleasant but determined expression immediately projects a sense of strength. The title and author move to the back cover so as not to compete with the opening image. A stark graphic design incorporating black, green, yellow, and red, colors from the South African flag, on the title page helps set the stage for the narrative. Nelson's paintings range from poignant, when Mandela's mother tells him good-bye as he leaves home for more education at the age of nine, to exuberant, when Mandela and 100 men arrested for protesting apartheid respond by dancing and singing, to inspiring, when people organize rallies demanding his release. When freedom finally comes, "a colorful sea of people" celebrate. Mandela's heroic struggle might be new to many children today, and Nelson's dynamic treatment provides enough detail to give a sense of the man and to acknowledge his important place in history.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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