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The Children’s Madiba, Author Interview and GiveAway…

November 7th, 2013 · 22 Comments

Did you know that it is National Non-Fiction Day today… and we have a Non-Fiction book to GiveAway that you are going to love. Meet The Children’s Madiba, the Life story of Nelson Mandela, by Sean Fraser and illustrated by Tom Kyffin.

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The Children’s Madiba: The Life Story of Nelson Mandela by Sean Fraser

This is a short easy to read chapter book, with illustrations on every spread, telling the life story of Nelson Mandela. I read this to all my children but all my kids age eight and up would be comfortable reading it themselves. It begins at the beginning when he was a herd boy growing up in the Eastern Cape, how he moved from the countryside to the city. His life and times and the struggle as a young black man, growing up in South Africa and living under the apartheid regime. How Mandela ended up in prison and becoming the symbol of freedom in South Africa. This book writes South African history for children in a way that we desperately need… lets face it as children’s literature in Africa is growing and beautiful books for children who are living in Africa are emerging, there are still very few history books and biographies available for children, so that they can learn their history and their heritage and feel that they belong. I’m all for more books like this, my children need to know that there is so much more to their own history and living in Africa than the books that are currently available to them are saying.

Sean at desk

We thought a fun way to introduce this recently launched book would be to meet the Author, Sean Fraser:
I’m a proud Muizenberg boy, and spent all of my childhood there – even though I’m not much of an outdoors or beach person, and certainly no surfer dude. I’ve always been drawn to books and reading, and as a kid I spent more time curled up on a couch reading than perhaps I should have … Today my own writing is inspired by people’s stories – all kinds of stories – and what interests and inspire other people, especially children. I like to try new things so, as a result, I have a long list of favourites – mango ice cream, spicy curry and ice tea. My favourite books of all time are Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a truly brilliant story of a family in America that is funny and clever and interesting and very well told through the eyes of a little girl. In many ways, it also has a lot in common with what happened in South African society.


And se7en + 1 Questions that we asked him:

  1. What is your work-style, what would be a great working day for you?
  2. My wife says I’m the most disciplined person she has ever known. Every morning, I’m at my desk at 8am and finish at exactly 5pm so that I can spend time with my family and just be a dad. There are few exceptions to my rule.
    A good working day for me would be to spend half the day writing my own books (I write a lot about travel in South Africa), and then getting to work on someone else’s book – I’m a book editor most of the time, so I get to help other authors write better books and tell better stories.

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  3. When you were a child what books did you enjoy reading?
  4. As a child, I read a lot! Every Friday my mom would take us to the Muizenberg Public Library, and I’d take out adventure stories such as The Hardy Boys, The Secret Seven, as well as the Little House on the Prairie books, and The Borrowers. I really enjoyed reading about other people’s lives – either as fiction or biographies and memoirs.

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  5. What books do you think South African children should read to develop a cultural literacy?
  6. There are lots and lots of books on South Africa for young readers – animals, plants, the land, the people and the cultures that make our country so fascinating – but I still believe that the best way to learn about our people is to read their life stories. Biographies can tell us a lot about culture, the society in which we live, the kind of people who inspire us and the sort of people we want to become.

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  7. Who or what was your biggest influence in becoming a writer?
  8. The people who inspired me the most were other writers, from journalists and scriptwriters to novelists, people who told stories in lots of different forms. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be anything but a writer. So I studied Journalism at university and finally became a book editor. And I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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  9. What made researching for this book great, did you get to do any interesting interviews or visit any unusual places?
  10. The writing of this particular book required no interviews or travel. Because Mr Mandela’s life is so well documented, I relied completely on other books and documentaries on apartheid South Africa. My research, however, meant that I had to read a lot – again, biographies were my best source of information – and I have also been lucky in that in my job as an editor I got to work on adult biographies of Mr Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo, all of whom played equally important roles in the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

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  11. We have used some of your books for school a lot, the Sasol Field guides, and “The Children’s Madiba” is quite a different genre of book, what made you want to write a book about the life of Madiba for children?
  12. My one and only aim for writing The Children’s Madiba was so that more children will get to read the story of his life. There are other books on Mr Mandela, really beautifully illustrated in full colour and well-written ones. But they are so expensive. Not many ordinary South African children can afford to buy those. When I first proposed the idea to publishers, many were very keen to do a big, beautiful book with colourful illustrations and lots of pages. But that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted children to be able to afford a book that they can (hopefully) buy from a local supermarket. We’re not there yet, but that’s the intention. And if we sell enough copies, we also hope to translate the book into other languages too.

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  13. Do you think you will write more books about South Africa and South African history for children?
  14. I hope so. Part of the initial idea was that The Children’s Madiba would be the first in a series. Unfortunately, though, producing books, especially children’s books, is expensive, so we will wait to see how the first book sells before we invest any more money. If it sells well, I’d like to look at writing similar ones on Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and even South African musicians, artists and pop stars. There are so many South African stories that deserve to be told.

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  15. If you had to tell all the children around the world, that read our blog…  just one thing about Madiba, what would it be?
  16. I would remind them that Mr Mandela has always insisted that he would have achieved nothing without other people. He was never alone in the struggle for freedom. Even though Mr Mandela is seen by millions across the globe as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen, he is just one of many people who sacrificed a lot – sometimes even gave their lives – so that all South Africans could be free. And yet he is proof that one person can make a difference.

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The Children’s Madiba: The Life Story of Nelson Mandela by Sean Fraser


The GiveAway

This GiveAway works in the usual way, comment before the end of Friday, 15 November 2013, and we will draw and publish the winners after that. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway.

Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

We really want to thank the Publisher, Penguin Books South Africa, for a copy of the book to review and another copy to GiveAway to our readers… we were not paid to write this blog post and the opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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Tags: Brilliant Books · GiveAways and Swaps

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dhesh // Nov 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    I would love to win this for my son.

  • 2 aunty muffin // Nov 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Wow! Would love this one!

  • 3 Shells // Nov 8, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Would love to read this!

  • 4 Renee G // Nov 8, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Thank you for the interview. I’d love to read this book.

  • 5 Nita // Nov 8, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Count me in, please!

  • 6 Jean Emms // Nov 8, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I have 3 grandchildren, aged 4, 6 and 7 currently living in Central Asia. They were born in Cape Town and are ardent fans of Madiba. They would love to get this book. How do I apply for the give away?

  • 7 DawnS // Nov 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    This would be a great book for my kids to read. Thanks for the review.

  • 8 Katherine Aitken // Nov 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Please enter us, I have several children who would enjoy reading this.

  • 9 Anita // Nov 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Please enter us, both my boys are very interested in Madiba, so we’d love to read this to at least my bigger boy.

  • 10 Ellen // Nov 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I would love to read this to my children .

  • 11 Wendy Meijer // Nov 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Would be great to win this!

  • 12 Cheryl // Nov 8, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    We are researching Apartheid right now with my 8 year old and would love to read more about Mandela and his role in forming the ANC

  • 13 Karen // Nov 9, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Thinking through history for next year and clicked across to you for a ‘break’…and here this is 🙂

  • 14 Tammy // Nov 9, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Lovely reader.

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  • 16 Sarah // Nov 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I love biographies!

  • 17 Delene // Nov 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    This would be a great biography to read to my children. We love to learn about the real heroes.

  • 18 Sue // Nov 15, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Yes please. We’d love this one.

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