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A Plan for the People

Updated: Aug 15

Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation by Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer


Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation by Lindsay McDivitt and Charly Palmer

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of their skin,” Mandela said. “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”


Nelson Mandela was a remarkable person. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, Mandela received more than 250 honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize. His emphasis on reconciliation, his spirit of love and forgiveness, his empathy, his resilience and his determination, made Mandela cherished and respected all over the word. In South Africa he is often referred to by his Thembu clan name, Madiba, and described as the "Father of the Nation."

Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation by Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer
Photo taken by author Lindsey McDivitt, illustrations by Charly Palmer

Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years, 18 of which were spent on Robben Island, South Africa’s equivalent to Alcatraz. There he was confined to a tiny cell without a bed or plumbing and forced to do hard labour in a quarry. Mandela was only allowed to write and receive a letter once every six months and permitted a 30-minute visit once a year. Despite this, his resolve was never broken, and he became a formidable force for change and a symbol of hope worldwide.


A Plan for the People explores Mandela’s life before, during and after prison. This explains how Mandela grew to understand that all people, Black and white, needed to be set free from the hateful system of apartheid. It details his philosophy and shows how he put his theories into practise. From his activism, befriending prison guards, to his refusal to become weakened by anger and despair, we see the various ways Mandela defied and conquered oppression.

A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation  by Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer
One of Charly Palmer's illustrations for A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation

For those not familiar with apartheid, this includes an account of the brutal segregation policy with easy-to-follow and child-friendly timelines. There’s a note from author Lindsey McDevitt about her own history with South Africa and what motivated her to write this book. Charly Palmer also discusses his relationship with South Africa and Mandela. For those interested in learning more about Mandela and South Africa, there’s a comprehensive bibliography at the back of the book. Charly Palmer’s illustrations can only be described as stunning. Extremely striking, dynamic and full of emotion, they are painted in the colours of South Africa. As well as being beautiful to look at, they are incredibly moving, and reinforce the book’s powerful optimism.

A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation  by Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer
Photo taken by author Lindsey McDivitt, illustration by Charly Palmer

This excellent book outlines Nelson Mandela’s history and heritage in an accessible and attractive format which will appeal to young readers. It’s a wonderful tribute to a fascinating and historically significant figure, and a timely reminder of how love is always stronger than hate. A Plan for the People is an empowering, inspiring and hopeful read. This wonderful celebration of Mandela’s life and legacy shows that even though the battle against racism continues, change is possible.


A Plan for the People is best suited to age 7 and upwards.


A huge thanks to author Lindsey McDivitt for the digital copy I received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review - all opinions expressed are my own. Thanks also to Lindsey for sending me some beautiful photos of her book to include in this review.

A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation  by Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer
Photo taken by author Lindsey McDivitt, illustration by Charly Palmer

About the author:

Lindsey McDivitt is the author of Nature's Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story and Truth and Honor: The President Ford Story (both Sleeping Bear). She has written extensively about ageism and the importance of older role models in picture books. Lindsey lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Follow Lindsey on Twitter @AisforAging or visit her website: lindseymcdivitt.com


About the illustrator:

Charly Palmer is an acclaimed fine artist, graphic designer, and illustrator. He received the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award for Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song (FSG). His other books include The Teachers March! (Calkins Creek), My Rainy Day Rocket Ship (Simon & Schuster), and I Can Write the World (Six Foot). His fine art explores racism, black identity, and activism, and his work has been commissioned for Time magazine, John Legend's album Bigger Love, and many other high-profile clients.

A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation  by Lindsey McDivitt and Charly Palmer
Photo taken by author Lindsey McDivitt, illustration by Charly Palmer

A Plan for the People was published by Wm. B. Eerdmans on 30th March 2021 - view this book on the publisher's website


Read an interview with illustrator Charly Palmer in which he discusses his creative process, his influences, and his work on A Plan for the People: Nelson Mandela’s Hope for His Nation


Read about the anti-apartheid protest of Irish supermarket workers in the 1980s which lasted three years, and find out why there's a street in Johannesburg named after one of them #top20reviews

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