The Herd Boy

Overview

A story about a boy who dares to dream of a big future, this picture book follows Malusi, a herd boy who tends to his grandfather’s sheep and goats among the mountains of the Transkei, South Africa. High above, eagles fly, while on the ground below, beetles crawl, termites scurry, and dust flies as Malusi plays games of stick-fighting with his friend. However, danger lurks in the shape of a hungry baboon stalking the flock. Inspired by the life of former president Nelson Mandela, this is a tale of empowerment, ...

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Overview

A story about a boy who dares to dream of a big future, this picture book follows Malusi, a herd boy who tends to his grandfather’s sheep and goats among the mountains of the Transkei, South Africa. High above, eagles fly, while on the ground below, beetles crawl, termites scurry, and dust flies as Malusi plays games of stick-fighting with his friend. However, danger lurks in the shape of a hungry baboon stalking the flock. Inspired by the life of former president Nelson Mandela, this is a tale of empowerment, self-belief, and leadership.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Malusi has a blue hat, a red blanket, and a difficult job: trying to keep his grandfather's sheep and goats safe from baboons. He has to watch for snakes and prevent his animals from falling into the ravine. "You have to be awake, and you have to be brave, to be a herd boy," writes Daly (Pretty Salma). Malusi also has a dream: he wants to be president, and when Nelson Mandela's car happens to drive by (it seems surprisingly believable), Mandela tells Malusi that he was once a herd boy himself. "Ah, a boy who looks after his herd will make a very fine leader. Sala kahle , Mr. President." While the episode is imagined, the message is clearly one of hope; Daly gives children like Malusi reason to believe that, despite their humble circumstances, they, too, can aspire to the nation's highest office. And Daly's portrait of rural South African life—the growls of baboons, the taste of maize porridge, and the view of the village enclosure from above—gives his story an almost cinematic dimension. Ages 6–10. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In South Africa, young Malusi rises early for his job of tending his grandfather's sheep and goats, taking them to the grazing slopes and keeping them safe. There he meets his friend Lungisa, and tries unsuccessfully to beat him at football or in a stick-fight. Lungisa laughs at Malusi's statement that his ambition is to be president when he grows up. After lunch, Malusi remembers to collect fresh dung for fertilizer to trade the grocer for fresh vegetables. An old baboon attacks the sheep, but Malusi fends him off with the help of Lungisa and his dog Koko. As they return home with a wounded lamb, they encounter a man in a shiny new car. When told that Malusi wants to be president, the man says that a boy who looks after his herd can make a fine leader. That night, his grandfather tells him he has earned a puppy of his own. The tired boy goes happily to sleep, dreaming of his possible future. Paints are applied with effective and informative naturalism, depicting the characters, the grazing area, and the hilly landscape in vignettes and across double pages. Daly takes the reader into the life of the young herder. The author notes that "many great men come from humble beginnings." His mention of former President Mandela in this regard calls our attention to the resemblance to the man in the shiny car. There is also a useful glossary. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Malusi looks after his grandfather's sheep and goats in rural South Africa. Every day, while it is still dark, he takes his herd to the grazing slopes. There, he must keep them safe from the ravine and snakes. "It's a big job for a small boy/…you have to be brave, to be a herd boy." His friend Lungisa, who dreams of playing soccer, and Malusi, who dreams of being president, play games and stick-fight while they watch over the animals. After Malusi bravely fends off a starving baboon, he gingerly cares for a wounded lamb and carries it back to his village. Then, in a highly believable moment, Nelson Mandela pulls up in his car and encourages Malusi by telling him, "a boy who looks after his herd will make a very fine leader." Daly does an extraordinary job of illustrating the story through detailed, gorgeously rendered images of the country. In addition, spot art illuminates textual references and unseen events. The glossary of Afrikaans and Xhosa words and an author's note clarify the text. This is a touching, eloquent story about a young boy who could be any child. Filled with hope and promise, it will inspire children to embrace their place in life and dream big.—Nancy Jo Lambert, Ruth Borchardt Elementary, Plano, TX
Kirkus Reviews
A day in the life and dreams of a young South African herding boy. Daly provides an opportunity to witness an everyday existence most likely very different from the one led by readers. Malusi is a Xhosa herder. Daly sketches his day, from his porridge breakfast to taking the sheep and goats out to graze, a little play with his friend, gathering dung to fertilize the garden, a dangerous encounter with a baboon and then home again. There is an elemental rhythm to the story, and the artwork is striking, the colors a mottle of landscape greens and browns, picked out by vivid wildflowers. The author salts the common proceedings with Malusi's dreams of a better lunch, owning a dog and becoming president of the country one day. (Nelson Mandela makes a brief appearance, reminding readers that he, too, was a herd boy.) Also sprinkled here and there are a sampling of words from South Africa--both Xhosa and Afrikaans; kraal, donga, googa--that are corralled into a glossary, as well as local fauna, from black eagles to puff adders to those opportunistic baboons. Malusi's life may be cut to the essential, but it is never short on incident and for the need to be on his toes. Affectionate and existential, Daly has well and fully caught Malusi's immediate circumstance and his horizons. (Picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802854179
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 10/4/2012
  • Pages: 1
  • Sales rank: 458,221
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: AD750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Niki Daly is the author of several children’s books, including Jamela’s Dress, Not So Fast Songololo, and Once Upon a Time. He is the recipient of the Children’s Literature Choice Award, the Parents’ Choice Silver Award, the Molteno Gold Medal, and the Peter Pan Silver Award.

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