Cover image for Mandela : from the life of the South African statesman
Mandela : from the life of the South African statesman
Cooper, Floyd.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Puffin Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Reading Level:
890 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.6 2 Quiz: 07354 Guided reading level: P.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT1949.M35 C66 1996C Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
DT1949.M35 C66 1996C Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

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Few figures have inspired as much respect or admiration as Nelson Mandela. From his childhood in the South African countryside, to his election as the first black president in South Africa's history, Mandela's extra-ordinary life is a story of courage, persistence, hope and belief. Celebrated author/artist Floyd Cooper delivers "a forceful, credible picture of a strong and deeply devoted statesman" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Author Notes

Floyd Cooper was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma. After graduating, he worked as an artist for a major greeting card company. In 1984, he came to New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator of books. The first book he illustrated was Grandpa's Face written by Eloise Greenfield. He received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and a Coretta Scott King Honor for Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 7^-9. Most children's biographies of Mandela are about his political life as an adult, and they are illustrated with dramatic documentary photographs. This picture book about the South African leader focuses on his happy childhood and youth as the son of a chief in the hills of the Transkei. The writing is reverential and exclamatory, which keeps the hero at a distance, but the handsome double-spread oil-wash paintings in soft, warm shades of brown capture the rural landscape and the individual people. The last third of the book, about Mandela's life in the city, includes a powerful close-up scene of a policeman demanding to see people's "pass books," a scene that shows what apartheid was like in daily life. At the back, a long author's note fills in the biographical details (including Mandela's 27 years in prison and his triumphant release); there is also a pronunciation key and a brief bibliography of good adult books. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cooper's (Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes) poetic portrait of Nelson Mandela emphasizes the leader's lifelong commitment to "stand[ing] firm for what he believed was fair and right." Appropriately for his audience, the author focuses more closely on Mandela's boyhood and schooling than on his adulthood as an anti-apartheid activist or his ascension to the presidency of South Africa. Lyrically linking Mandela's Thembu heritage with his education in modern subjects, Cooper describes the young Mandela's relationship to Thembu elders, such as Old Chief Joyi, "[who] with his wrinkled blue-black skin and dry, dusty voice, had lived and seen much from the days of forever before." This dextrous attention to Thembu traditions paves the way to a stronger appreciation of the adult Mandela's commitment to freedom for all of South Africa's peoples. Striking an appealing balance between the representational and the symbolic, Cooper's intentionally grainy oil washes present impressive likenesses of Mandela throughout the stages of his life. Skillful design accommodates a lengthy text by setting it in relatively small type and superimposing it over sweeping, two-page spreads. A forceful, credible picture of a strong and deeply devoted statesman. Ages 5-10. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Readers are introduced to the formation and growth of the young Nelson Mandela. Rolihlahla, known to his family as Buti, came from a royal Thembu family and was taught the ways of leadership early in his life. This brief account traces his days as a school boy, where he is assigned the name Nelson; as a college man; and as the first black to open (with his partner) a Johannesburg law office. It touches even more briefly on his work with the ANC, his two marriages and families, and his prison years. The text conveys the timelessness of the African traditions and landscape: "Always, the wind had blown mightily through the valley that cradled his village. Sunsets had forever before kissed the hills..." Most importantly, it sketches the lessons through which Mandela learned to hold fast to his beliefs. Wind is an important image in the narrative, often as a reminder of strength. Cooper's oil paintings are infused with golden light. Elegant composition and subtle shifts in perspective add emotional value to the carefully focused account. The author's obvious reverence for his subject shines through in this thoughtfully crafted, beautiful book.-Carolyn Noah, Central Mass. Regional Library System, Worcester, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.