Apartheid. A belief that was dividing a country in two. But a man wanted it to end, a man who would be imprisoned for 27 years fighting peacefully to unite South Africa. That man was Nelson Mandela.
Title: Grandad Mandela
Author: Zindzi Mandela, Zazi Mandela, and Ziwelene Mandela
Illustrator: Sean Qualls
ISBN: 9781786031365 Language: English
Classification: Fiction with factual references
Themes: cause and effect, bringing about change
What’s it about?
This book is written in narrative style but contains a lot of factual information – so it’s a blended classification. It’s about two siblings who decide to ask their grandmother about their grandad (great-grandad) who was Nelson Mandela. It looks at his upbringing, education, the challenges his family faced, and apartheid.
The format of question/answer as part of a conversation is really engaging. Questions that the two girls ask as worded in a way you would expect a child to pose the question (so not always grammatically correct). The content focuses on the facts of not only Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment, but also his upbringing.
Sean Qualls is a new illustrator for me and it’s a rather interesting style of painting and collage. It’s very different from what I’m used to but to me it works for this book rather well.
There is one confronting image of a person about to be beaten with a club – not gory though.
I don’t actually get enough history books coming across my desk and I truly wish I did get more because I LOVE history. In fact it was history that really got me reading widely in my teens and beyond. When I was offered an ARC for this book I immediately said yes but I’ll be honest: I didn’t know that much about Nelson Mandela.
This book is dealing with a really big issue – apartheid.
I know, that might sound odd, but I knew who he was and that he’d been imprisoned. I knew enough about apartheid to carry on a discussion but I really didn’t know how all the pieces fit together…until now. This book is dealing with a really big issue – apartheid. I’ll be honest in saying that this is a topic that brings out strong emotions and opinions in people (and with good reason) and thus makes it a tricky topic to convey to a reader – let alone in a picture book (more what I would call a Transition Book) format.
One thing that really stood out for me what that this wasn’t made into a black vs white debate. It mentions in context thoughts about it and the culture that had developed in the country that led to apartheid occurring but also balances this out showing that while Nelson Mandela fought for change from prison many people of colour and white as well were fighting to end apartheid together.
I really liked the approach of this book with the great-grandchildren asking questions. It’s a natural way to tell a story, and especially important in my opinion as this is about a real person. The family vibe really adds to that real person mantra.
Overall, this book is a great launch book into history or social justice lessons. There is a lot that can be learnt just from this book and reflecting on it. Then there is extending that learning using it as a base for further research, discussion, and debate. Apartheid is still in existence today in countries and the better the next generation understands about how is comes about, is fueled, and mostly importantly – overcome, increases the likelihood of a better world for all people – no matter the colour.
Special thanks to Quatro Publishing Group / Quatro Knows Frances Lincoln
for providing me with an ARC of this book.