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.)[Page 64]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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[Page 112]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.