Written by and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This book tells the amazing true story of Nelson Mandela’s life. Mandela, originally named Rolihlahla, was one of the only children from his village sent to school. His teacher, unable to pronounce his name, called him Nelson. As Nelson grew up he saw the oppression of people of African and Indian descent by people of European descent in his country. A cruel system of segregation called apartheid was put in place by the government. Mandela became involved in politics where he strived to help create a South Africa where all people would be equal. But speaking out was against the law and Nelson was imprisoned again and again. As time went by and people fought back, the system of apartheid was slowly undone. Nelson was released from prison and elected the new leader of South Africa in a landslide election.
This is a powerful story which will move children regardless of ethnicity or background. This is a story about fighting for what is right, even when it is hard, even when it is frightening. Kadir Nelson’s story is beautifully illustrated in full-page paintings that could easily pass for fine art in a museum. The power and emotion of the story can clearly be seen on every face. This book is best suited for children from 4-8 years, but could also be extremely useful in a classroom (or home) with older children in introducing a lesson on the history of South Africa or on segregation. No matter what age or in what setting, Nelson Mandela is a book that will teach all children that they can do anything if they are willing to fight for it.
Reviewed by Rachel Brittain