Grandad Mandela: Book Review

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 (hardback) : 9781786035943 (paperback)         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 the 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.

My Thoughts
Okay, so this one isn't released until the 28th of June 2018 (sorry you'll have to wait a bit longer) but here's a sneak peek at this book!

I don't 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 in 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 it comes about, is fueled, and most importantly - overcome, increases the likelihood of a better world for all people - no matter the colour.

Special thanks to Quarto Publishing Group / Quarto Knows Frances Lincoln

for providing me with an ARC of this book.


  1. I love the sound of this book. My daughter has got to the age where she asks a lot of questions about race particularly when it comes to history so I think she'd enjoy this

  2. I love history books too so I know what you mean, there's always so much to learn x

  3. Love a good book review. I think my mother would love this read x

  4. I am looking for something new to read with my son, who is currently learning about the great man himself. This is brilliant and I do love how engaging it sounds . I like the idea of it being based on a conversation with the reader learning about ‘grandad’ as the kiddies who are asking the questions are learning too. Thanks for this. Going to have a look at it now online x

  5. This looks like a great book for an older child to get stuck into. We love history books too, especially the amazing women of the world ones. x

  6. Ooh keep an eye out Annette as I’ve just received 2 ARC books for kids about women in history.

  7. This sounds a great book - I like the idea of coming form the perspective of the grand children. Kaz

  8. Sounds really interesting and I love that it’s facts but written in a question and answer style with the kids asking their grandmother about their granddad.xx

  9. lukeosaurusandme21 May 2018 at 11:00

    Sounds like an interesting read. It’s not often I read, and therefore even come across, books related to history but I think I should make more of an effort to add some to my bookshelf.

  10. Thank you for the review! Will have to check this book out!