Book review: Grandad Mandela, by Zindzi Mandela, Zazi Mandela, and Ziwelene Mandela, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Mandela, Zindzi, Zazi Mandela and Ziwelene Mandela. Grandad Mandela. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books/Quarto Publishing, 2018 (publication date June 28, 2018). Reviewed from NetGalley Adobe e-Pub advance readers edition. 21 pages. $17.99. ISBN: . Ages 4-8. P7Q8

Nelson Mandela’s youngest daughter, now a grandmother, tells her grandchildren about growing up under apartheid and about their great-grandfather and his long fight against apartheid in South Africa.  As she answers the children’s questions, there comes an understanding of how Mandela lived his life in such a way that his principles of peaceful protest and service to the community brought changes to the very government which had imprisoned him for much of his life.  Sean Qualls’ quiet illustrations show prison scenes, police brutality, and white violence against blacks, as well as the village and family life that sustained Mandela through his long and peaceful protest.

Verdict: This biography uses a question and answer format to introduce an important figure in 20th century history to a new generation and provides a sensitive, accurate view of the problems of racism and apartheid in South Africa.  The picture book presentation is clear and accessible for young readers, though the question and answer text occasionally veers toward the didactic.  The lack of additional biographical or historical notes or other back matter is disappointing.  Recommended for elementary and public library collections.

June 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

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