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Journey to Jo'Burg


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About the Author

Beverley Naidoo grew up in South Africa under apartheid. She says: "As a white child I didn't question the terrible injustices until I was a student. I decided then that unless I joined the resistance, I was part of the problem." Beverley Naidoo was detained without trial when she was twenty-one and later went into exile in Britain, where she has since lived. Her first children's book, Journey to Jo'burg, was banned in South Africa until 1991, but it was an eye-opener for thousands of readers worldwide. Her characters in Chain of Fire, No Turning Back, and Out of Bounds face extraordinary challenges in a society she describes as "more dangerous than any fantasy." She has won many awards for her writing, including the Carnegie Medal, the Jane Addams Book Award, and the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults for The Other Side of Truth, about two refugee children smuggled to London who are also featured in Web of Lies. Eric Velasquez has illustrated numerous children's books, including Strong Voices: Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing and Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford. He won the Pura Belpre Award for his illustrations in Grandma's Gift. He won the John Steptoe New Talent Award for his illustrations in The Piano Man, written by Debbi Chocolate. Visit his website at


Naledi, 13, and her younger brother Tiro live with their grandmother and their aunt while their mother works in far-away Johannesburg. When Dineo, their baby sister, gets sick, Naledi and Tiro decide to find Mma (mother in Tswana) and bring her home. The trip takes several days, carrying them into a world that is both larger than they imagined, and more restricted for blacks than they ever thought possible. Mma is located; she goes home with them, even though her white employer threatens to hire a new maid in her absence. Mma takes Dineo to the hospital, and the baby lives. Naledi has begun her own journey: she has witnessed an innocent black youth's arrest; she met Grace, who has lost family in the struggle for freedom. And she gains a new understanding of her country. There are many viewpoints in this story: Mma is trying to survive; Grace struggles for dignity. But the author's gift is in translating violent TV images into a provocative, eloquent story about the human spirit, from its first flicker to full flame. (912)

"This well-written [story] has no equal. Evocative and haunting."--School Library Journal (starred review)
"A provocative, eloquent story about the human spirit."--Publishers Weekly

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