Journey to Jo’burg

The sun rose higher. On they walked. The heat sank into them and they felt the sweat on their bodies. On they walked. Alone again…

My first illustrated response to Journey to Jo’burg in 1985, thanks to a schoolboy Jeffrey Cooper

Another baby has died in the village and Naledi knows that her little sister Dineo might die too. But what can she do? Their grandmother has no money and there are no doctors in their village. So Naledi makes up her mind. She will have to get Mma who works more than 300 kilometres away in Johannesburg. The only way to let her know was to get to the big road and walk. So Naledi and her brother Tiro did just that…

Banned by the apartheid government in South Africa, this is the story of two children’s courage and determination to find their mother and bring her home.

Beverley Naidoo writes:
When I sent two copies of my first children’s book to nephews and nieces in South Africa in 1985, they never received the parcel. Instead, my sister-in-law received a letter telling her that the books had been seized and banned. However Journey to Jo’burg soon found its way into many different countries, in English and in translations, so that hundreds of thousands of children elsewhere were soon reading it. It was only after the release of Nelson Mandela from jail that the book was unbanned.

…the more searing for its gentleness.
– The Guardian, UK

…so simple and straightforward that it makes accessible even to quite young children the difficult and the profound.
–Times Educational Supplement, UK

… with a wealth to share, this well-written piece has no equal.
–(Starred review) School Library Journal, USA

A provocative, eloquent story about the human spirit.
–Publishers Weekly, USA

Parents' Choice Honor Book for Paperback Literature, USA 1988

Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies,
USA 1986

Child Study Children's Book Committee Award, USA 1986

The Other Award, UK 1985

Read my Letter from the Author on ‘Word Power’ (written for Barbican Education) here.

Read about the book’s 25th anniversary celebration here.

Some earlier covers