This book follows seven-year-old Bogani Mofokeng through his busy day in a suburb of Johannesburg. His daily routine, illustrated with photographs of his family, home, school and neighborhood, offers insight into the lives of a modern family living in the New South Africa. An author’s note preceding the story provides contextual information on the origin of Bongani’s name, his homeland of Lesotho, and his new life in South Africa. Italicized subtext throughout the book provides further historical and cultural information. The book finishes with more detailed information on South African history, people, religion, language, and a glossary.
School Library Journal
Bright, color photographs on jazzily designed pages introduce a seven-year-old black boy in Johannesburg at home, at school, and with friends. While the pictures show a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, not very different from a suburban family in the United States, the text, which is presented as extended picture captions, describes a nontraditional family. Bongani, who was born in Lesotho, lives with his black aunt and white uncle and their daughters, and attends an integrated, formerly white, school. Clear explanations of special cultural features appear in italics, and are easily distinguishable from the text. Some basic information about South Africa and its history, clearly and simply written, is found at the back of the book. It is accompanied by an explanation of the major languages of the country and a glossary of words in the text in South African languages. Pleasant enough, if rather bland in its presentation, this volume could find a niche in social-studies collections.
-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City, Copyright 2003, Reed Business Information, Inc.
K - Gr. 3
Who would have believed it could happen? In Westdene, once an all-white racist Johannesburg neighborhood under apartheid, a seven-year-old, black child Bongani Mofokeng, lives with his aunt Manana, his white uncle David, and his two older cousins, Thabi and Flory. Accurate and entertaining, this lively photo-essay in A Child's Day series, with full-color pictures and a few paragraphs of text on every page, shows Bongani attending his integrated local school (where his favorite subject is computer skills). At home with friends and family he enjoys all kinds of music, dance, and food, traditional and new. He has his cousin shave his head, leaving a mop of dreadlocks on top to imitate his favorite soccer star; and before he falls asleep, she reads to him from Harry Potter. Of course, Bongani is far more privileged than most black kids in South Africa, and the writer is careful to point out the continuing inequality. Written in a clear, informal style, the excellent final essay, the glossary, and the notes fill in a lot of the apartheid history for young readers, explain the lively words from many languages, and celebrate Bongani's life. See the Series Roundup in this issue for other titles.
-Hazel Rochman, Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved