Nelson, Kadir. 2013. NELSON MANDELA. NY: Katherine Tegen Books. ISBN 9780061783760 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
Kadir Nelson fills a need for a biography of the iconic figure Nelson Mandela that will be accessible to a primary audience. Dates appear in the back matter, but are omitted from the simple but compelling narrative of Mandela’s life. The story begins on the grassy hills of Qunu where Mandela, the smartest of 13 siblings, is the only child chosen for school. He receives the name Nelson from his teacher.
The remarkable saga of Mandela’s life is recounted in a matter-of-fact tone: He loses his father at age nine; he is sent away to live with a far-away chief; he becomes a lawyer defending those who could not defend themselves; he fights apartheid; he is jailed for 27 ½ years; he is freed and subsequently elected president. Kadir Nelson fills the front cover with a close up rendering of Mandela’s face. The vibrant paintings that fill the rest of the book provide a rich backdrop to the spare text. A well-chosen quotation concludes the celebration of Mandela’s life with jubilant optimism: “We must forget our terrible past and build a better future for South Africa. Let us continue to fight for justice and walk the last mile to freedom.”
Explain that Mandela died in December of 2013, after this book’s publication. Consider gathering photographic images of Nelson Mandela to help young children connect the book’s art to reality. An internet image search will yield many options. Be sure to include images from different times in Mandela’s life. A short clip of Mandela receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 is available at nobelprize.org.
Bildner, Phil. THE SOCCER FENCE: A STORY OF FRIENDSHIP, HOPE AND APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA. 80399247903
Mandela, Nelson. LONG WALK TO FREEDOM. 9781596435667
By Suzy Parchman