Little Guides to Great Lives: Nelson Mandela

Laurence King. May 2022. 64p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781510230071.
Gr 3-5–Thomas writes in a clear style, pulling key moments of Nelson Mandela’s life into a condensed, chronological narrative. The focus is on how his life led to his great legacy, so personal moments are chosen based on how they fit into that bigger picture. When Mandela’s words are used in selected quotes, they are given a hand-lettering style that makes them appear part of the illustrated scene, more part of the action rather than conventional text. Warren’s simplified palette helps keep the narrative focused while still engaging. Particularly interesting are those scenes illustrating apartheid and Mandela’s imprisonment, which communicate emotional, historical moments with care. The book also includes additional opportunities for engagement, including a time line of Mandela’s life, a glossary, an index, and shares a copy of the African National Congress’s Freedom Charter. A beautiful and well-done book, educators may wish to note that the author and illustrator are not Black South Africans.
VERDICT In just over 60 pages comes Nelson Mandela’s story—from his childhood and early education through to his anti-apartheid activism and later election to president of South Africa—in a meaningful, accessible work.

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