Nelson Mandela

Overview

In this picture book biography, award-winning author and illustrator Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant free verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy's determination to change South Africa, and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for all people, no matter the color of their skin. Readers will be inspired by Mandela's triumph and his lifelong quest to create ...

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Overview

In this picture book biography, award-winning author and illustrator Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant free verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy's determination to change South Africa, and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for all people, no matter the color of their skin. Readers will be inspired by Mandela's triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.

An author's note at the back retells the story of Mandela's fight against apartheid in simple prose, and takes the story further, including Mandela's Nobel Peace Prize. A short bibliography lists additional sources for readers who want to find out more.

This Coretta Scott King Honor Book supports the Common Core State Standards.

The 2014 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2013

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Pamela Paul
…a book meant to engage its young audience viscerally. It is a sumptuous, deeply affecting work…Nelson's paintings are drenched here in ambience and emotion…known to be a man of few words…his text here is spare but effective. He doesn't embellish when direct prose works on its own…
Publishers Weekly
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.)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A dramatic encounter indeed."
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Nelson Mandela acquires his first name from his teacher when he is the only child chosen for school from his area. After his father's death he is sent miles away to live with a powerful chief who tells him how South Africa has come to belong to Europe. Nelson becomes a lawyer in Johannesburg, helping poor, powerless Africans. He tries to organize to fight apartheid, the forceful separation of native Africans, Indians, and Europeans, but is arrested for it. Winnie marries him and they fight together. First Nelson goes underground, but he is eventually caught and imprisoned for twenty-seven and a half years. Finally South Africa changes and prisoners are freed. Nelson Mandela is elected the president. An unusual and challenging front jacket/cover greets us: a full size frontal portrait of our hero Mandela with no words or setting. The naturalistic paintings of people and events fill the double pages. Nelson ages visibly over the years covered. Some scenes show groups of raised fists or agitated men in white shirts, angry men shouting protests. Finally there are smiling faces as Mandela raises a clenched fist against a bright blue sky. A note adds additional information; there is also a bibliography. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This beautifully illustrated book, with a phenomenal full cover picture of Mandela, will give younger readers a strong sense of who Nelson Mandela was and is to both the people of South Africa as well as the world. Through a combination of lyrical prose and beautiful paintings-illustration, Nelson Mandela's life is followed from his childhood with the Xhosa peoples to his education in Johannesburg to his rallies fighting against apartheid in South Africa. Mandela's marriage and imprisonment highlight the important years of public struggle as Mandela fought against the government and as others used his face and dedication to keep the issue of apartheid in the world's awareness. The ending of the book, showcasing Mandela's time as the new leader of South Africa, shifts into a straightforward prose section focused on somewhat higher level facts about Mandela that would help older readers and support their interest in learning more about Mandela. A beautiful and necessary book for any school library. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A dramatic encounter indeed.”
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 in history.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061783746
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/2/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 78,931
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Kadir Nelson won the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. He received Caldecott Honors for Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, for which he also garnered a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and won an NAACP Image Award. Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. Nelson's authorial debut, We Are the Ship, was a New York Times bestseller, a Coretta Scott King Author Award winner, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book. He is also the author and illustrator of the acclaimed Baby Bear.

Kadir Nelson won the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor for Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. He received Caldecott Honors for Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, for which he also garnered a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and won an NAACP Image Award. Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. Nelson's authorial debut, We Are the Ship, was a New York Times bestseller, a Coretta Scott King Author Award winner, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book. He is also the author and illustrator of the acclaimed Baby Bear.

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