cover image PEACEFUL PROTEST: The Life of Nelson Mandela

PEACEFUL PROTEST: The Life of Nelson Mandela

Yona Zeldis McDonough, , illus. by Malcah Zeldis. . Walker, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8821-4

The daughter-mother collaborators behind Sisters in Strength: American Women Who Made a Difference offer a clear portrait of South African leader Nelson Mandela. McDonough provides a straightforward chronology of her subject's life, noting influential individuals and events. At the age of 16, for example, Mandela participated in a ritual passage into manhood, during which a speaker told the boys that "their promise of manhood would remain unfulfilled, because all black South Africans were a conquered people—slaves in their own land, denied their freedoms and their rights." Later in his life, Mandela wrote that these ideas had remained with him, "shaping his vision of the world and his place in it." The author describes Mandela's extraordinary resolve and strength of character, especially during his 27-year imprisonment: "Although the guards and prison officials tried their best to break Nelson's spirit, they couldn't do it.... As a free man, he had been a leader, and a leader he remained, even while behind bars." However, Zeldis's electric-hued folk-art gouaches seem ill-suited to the subject matter. In particular, her use of artificial color in everyday portraits of Mandela and other black people (she gives them orange and red noses, yellow and orange facial lines, while white people escape similar treatment) is problematic in its resemblance to tribal face paint—especially when one scene does include a ritual use of face and body paint. The color mannerisms introduce a discordant element in an otherwise respectful and admiring book. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)