Apartheid took hold of South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s. Racial segregation was the law and non-whites were treated as a lower class—one that restricted their rights. This re-release of the award winning JOURNEY TO JO’BURG comes as at a perfect time as we continue to witness hatred in our present world.

Although the story is less than 100 pages, you’ll discover the hurt apartheid caused for so many. Author Beverly Naidoo made a great choice in unfolding the story through the eyes of two children, both of whom learn the difficult truth of growing up black in South Africa at the time.



Separated from their mother by the harsh social and economic conditions prevalent among blacks in South Africa, thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother make a journey over 300 kilometers to find her in Johannesburg. Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village Naledi and Tiro call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn’t until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country, and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them.

The new cover shines, depicting the love of a family and the journey they must make to ensure it’s survival. Fifteen short chapters along with several enriching illustrations by Eric Velasquez would serve well as a read aloud and lead to much discussion.

Also added to this new edition are bonus materials including the author relating her life experiences that contributed to writing the story along with a copy of the letter detailing the banning of the story when it was first released. A concise and helpful History of Apartheid closes out the book and will help students understand how this act came about.

The book would make a nice addition to a school or home library. The story will encourage new generations to make sure this awful time is never repeated.


Beverley Naidoo is the award-winning author of several children’s books, including The Other Side of Truth, No Turning Back, and Chain of Fire. Her books center on political corruption, struggle, and injustices that occur in South Africa. After being exiled, Naidoo moved to England where she married and had children with another South African exile. 

Get to know more about  illustrator Eric Velasquez from his website.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Historical fiction, Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to JOURNEY TO JO’BURG

  1. Great historical fiction! Don’t think I’ve seen a book like this one for middle graders. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. This sounds amazing and maybe heartbreaking. Thanks for your review. I’ll look for it.

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