Nelson Mandela

Abrams. (First Names). Sept. 2021. 160p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781419756085; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781419749629.
Gr 4-7–His real first name was Rolihlahla, meaning “tree-shaker” or “troublemaker.” When seven-year-old Rolihlahla Mandela went to a British-style school, his teacher gave him the “proper” English name of Nelson to replace his “inferior” African name. This detailed biography covers his entire life, taking time to explore the myriad events that led to his being the face of the anti-apartheid movement. While he is lauded as a hero, Mandela is also humanized, his mistakes given as much space as his accomplishments. The book is heavily illustrated with comics-like figures that portray events and offer additional information and humorous asides. The illustrations are sure to grab and maintain reader interest and enhance accessibility. They also effectively drive home the realities of the horrible working, living, and prison conditions Mandela and others endured. Frequent sidebars and text boxes offer diagrams or outlines and efficiently explain difficult concepts like the racial divisions in South Africa, apartheid, and civil disobedience. One potential area of confusion is direct quotes: while some readers may believe comments in the word bubbles are quotations, the vast majority are not. A note on the copyright page indicates that direct quotes are italicized, but neither that nor the italics are sufficiently highlighted.A pronunciation guide, time line, glossary, quote attributions, and bibliography constitute the back matter. Recommend to fans of Penguin Workshop’s “Who Was?” series who want something a little more challenging.
VERDICT This engaging and comprehensive biography is recommended for general purchase.

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