Reviews for Nelson Mandela : Long Walk to Freedom

Booklist Reviews 2009 October #2
*Starred Review* Drawing on Nelson Mandela's eponymous adult best-seller, South Africans Van Wyk and Bouma bring his amazing autobiography to young children, with Mandela's quiet words and Bouma's handsome ink-and-watercolor pictures. The blend of the personal and the political works perfectly, from Mandela's childhood in a tribal Xhosa village and his early schooling to his time at a university, his work in a law office in the segregated city of Johannesburg, and his marriage to Winnie. Generously sized pictures show the realities of apartheid: Mandela's home in Alexandra township with no electricity or running water; the white police demanding blacks' passbooks; and the horror of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, when 69 died and 400 were injured in an unarmed protest. Much of the book tells of the Nobel Peace Prize winner's 27 years in prison, with images of him in a tiny cell. Finally, the story depicts Mandela's 1990 release, the pictures showing him nose to nose with his grandchild. A closing image portrays long lines of voters casting their ballots for the first time to elect him president of all the people. With a large, clear map; time line; and glossary, the astonishing story will grab kids, and the parallels with the U.S. civil rights movement won't be lost on the audience. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 September #4

Stories about stick fighting and sneaking out to dance halls while at university go a long way to help readers connect with the story of activist Mandela, a former president of South Africa. Born Rolihlahla, which means, interestingly, "troublemaker," he was given the name Nelson at a mission school ("At that time, the English ruled our country, so our teacher thought we should all have English names"). As the conflict escalates into violence, events such as the Sharpeville Massacre and Mandela's 27-year imprisonment in a cell "so tiny that when I lay down on my sleeping mat, my feet and hands could touch opposite walls" are handled deftly. Bouma's color and sepia illustrations of Mandela are spot on, but chalky black outlines and shading sometimes obscure rather than define, and some compositions have the stiff feel of a newspaper photograph. An abridgment of his 1995 autobiography, the book ends with Mandela's election in 1994, leaving the impact of his victory unexplored. A solid if not revolutionary resource about apartheid and Mandela's role in its dissolution. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 October

Gr 2-6--Abridged from Mandela's 1994 autobiography, this picture book distills the basic facts of his childhood, his education, and the influences that led him to become one of the world's most renowned political activists. In a simple, yet effective manner, he describes the growing system of apartheid, and the unjust treatment of blacks in South Africa is made clear without horrifying details. The focus of the book is really on the man's life as an early activist working with the African National Congress, coordinating protests, and meeting with others around the country. The writing is clear, providing chronological detail for even young students new to the concept and history of apartheid. Full-page, color paintings accompany the text on every spread and depict crucial moments from the narrative in a way that both complements and enhances the story, lending visual structure. Similar in scope and detail to Yona McDonough's Peaceful Protest (Walker, 2002) and Floyd Cooper's Mandela (Philomel, 1996), this autobiography will be a strong supplement to any collection.--Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

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