From School Library Journal
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 inhistory.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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. Preschool-Grade 3. --Hazel Rochman