Review: Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

nelson mandela

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

In a way that only Kadir Nelson could capture, this book tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s life, imprisonment and how he became the inspiration he is.  This is a very humanizing tale of Mendela, showing his childhood before his father’s death and then his move across South Africa to study under a powerful chief.   Mandela attended school and then got involved in fighting apartheid.  The book follows him as he is jailed the first time and as he rises to be a threat to those in power and goes into hiding.  Mandela returned to South Africa to continue the fight and is then jailed again, doing heavy labor.  After being in prison for over 27 years, Mandela was freed.  His passion for righting the wrongs of apartheid and speaking for equality of all people shines from every page.

Nelson tells the story of Mandela in verse that is factual but also compelling.  He captures the long time spent in prison in a way that children will be able to understand.  Cold meals, thin blankets and beating rocks into dust.  It shows the futility and the harshness with such clarity.  Nelson’s verse also has a great sense of awe for this man and what he has accomplished, that too makes it a very special, honest book.

As always, Nelson’s images are simply wondrous.  Here they seem to shine from within whenever Mandela is part of the image.  As you can see from the cover illustration, there is all of the human inside his art; it radiates from his work.  Shown with detail, interesting perspectives, and ending with a sense of celebration, Nelson’s art is a standout.

This is the story of Nelson Mandela captured fully in a picture book that celebrates all of his accomplishments and what he stands for as a human being.  Beautiful.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Katherine Tegen Books.

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