cover image Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

, , illus. by Paddy Bouma. . Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $16.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-566-7

Stories about stick fighting and sneaking out to dance halls while at university go a long way to help readers connect with the story of activist Mandela, a former president of South Africa. Born Rolihlahla, which means, interestingly, “troublemaker,” he was given the name Nelson at a mission school (“At that time, the English ruled our country, so our teacher thought we should all have English names”). As the conflict escalates into violence, events such as the Sharpeville Massacre and Mandela’s 27-year imprisonment in a cell “so tiny that when I lay down on my sleeping mat, my feet and hands could touch opposite walls” are handled deftly. Bouma’s color and sepia illustrations of Mandela are spot on, but chalky black outlines and shading sometimes obscure rather than define, and some compositions have the stiff feel of a newspaper photograph. An abridgment of his 1995 autobiography, the book ends with Mandela’s election in 1994, leaving the impact of his victory unexplored. A solid if not revolutionary resource about apartheid and Mandela’s role in its dissolution. Ages 6–up. (Sept.)