The Herd Boy

illus. by author. 32p. CIP. glossary. Eerdmans. 2012. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-8028-5417-9. LC 2012005515.
RedReviewStarGr 1–3—Malusi looks after his grandfather's sheep and goats in rural South Africa. Every day, while it is still dark, he takes his herd to the grazing slopes. There, he must keep them safe from the ravine and snakes. "It's a big job for a small boy/…you have to be brave, to be a herd boy." His friend Lungisa, who dreams of playing soccer, and Malusi, who dreams of being president, play games and stick-fight while they watch over the animals. After Malusi bravely fends off a starving baboon, he gingerly cares for a wounded lamb and carries it back to his village. Then, in a highly believable moment, Nelson Mandela pulls up in his car and encourages Malusi by telling him, "a boy who looks after his herd will make a very fine leader." Daly does an extraordinary job of illustrating the story through detailed, gorgeously rendered images of the country. In addition, spot art illuminates textual references and unseen events. The glossary of Afrikaans and Xhosa words and an author's note clarify the text. This is a touching, eloquent story about a young boy who could be any child. Filled with hope and promise, it will inspire children to embrace their place in life and dream big.—Nancy Jo Lambert, Ruth Borchardt Elementary, Plano, TX
Malusi is a herd boy who tends his grandfather's sheep and goats. At the grazing slopes, he must step carefully to avoid snakes, and he is always alert for dangers to the herd. His friend Lungisa dreams of someday playing football (soccer), but Malusi has grander ambitions: to be president. After the boys make a courageous rescue of the flock from hungry baboons, they see a fancy car drive up. Inside is a man (clearly Nelson Mandela, though he isn't named in the text) who offers encouragement to Malusi to pursue his dream. (An appended author's note explains that Mandela, "a great and much-loved man of our own time," was himself a herd boy from a "humble, rural background.") Throughout the story, Daly provides a palpable feel for daily life in modern rural South Africa, from tending livestock to collecting dung pebbles. His expansive illustrations highlight the beauty of the landscape's rocky austerity, while the rich orange of Malusi's cloak (and occasional flowers) provides a welcome contrast to the abundance of earth tones. Thoughtful pacing allows for appreciation of both the tale's action and its quieter moments. Some Afrikaans and Xhosa words are incorporated into the text; a glossary is appended. susan dove lempke

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing