First Names: NELSON (Mandela) by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Nicole Miles

Publication Date: 4 February 2021

The Blurb

Meet NELSON MANDELA, the world’s most famous freedom fighter, who went from wanted terrorist to international hero and President of South Africa, thanks to 27 years in jail! Find out: why he didn’t use a toothbrush until he was 21; why he was arrested for travelling on a tram and why one of his prison cells came with a servant and a pool!

The Review

The next in the brilliant and hugely polular First Names series, which has already introduced us to Harry (Houdini), Malala (Yousafzai), and Beyonce to name a few, sees us meet the man who was an inspiration to people around the world. From the editorial team that brought us Horrible Histories, we get to really know the famous people they focus on and what drives them. In this book, we learn all about the Nobel Peace Prize winning freedom fighter who wanted equailty for all South Africans.

We first meet ‘Nelson’ as a 12 year old and discover how he becomes an activist against aparthied, a tartget fpr authorities and, after 27 years in three different prisons, the first democratically elected black Presidemt of South Africa. Nansubuga’s text is engaging and insightful, while Nicole’s illustrations add depth, humour and understanding.

Edning with a really useful pronunciation guide and glossary, and timeline, this is a truly fascinating insight, not only into his life, but the world he grew up in, and is a reminder of how much work we still have to do to acheive his dream of equality for all.

The Guest Post

NICOLE MILES, illustrator of First Names: NELSON

The parts I enjoyed illustrating the most were the scenes with lots of action, and scenes for possible visual humour, like pages 67, 86 or 97.

But I also really enjoyed visualising some of the tricky parts that might be unclear in words alone and so required a lot visual clarity like the secret messaging system on page 122, which actually required a few revisions to get right so it was clear how the system worked.

And then, although full scenes like the one on page 113 with lots of people often require a lot of research (finding good enough photos of someone to draw their likeness or getting reference images of specific vehicles or buildings) and it takes a long time to draw crowds, it was so satisfying seeing these illustrations finished with all the shading and labelling.

After all, people are my favourite thing to draw. Their different mannerisms, expressions, clothing and so on add so much personality to an image and can show a lot about who they each are, not just in their individual design but also in contrast to each other.

About The Illustrator

Nicole Miles is an illustrator, cartoonist, hand-letterer and designer from The Bahamas. She is currently living in West Yorkshire with her pet snake and human boyfriend. After five and a half years of designing cards for Hallmark UK, she jumped into full-time freelance life in January of 2020. She worked with a variety of clients including the New York TimesBuzzfeedSeal Press, and David Fickling Books. My comic Barbara (ShortBox, 2017) was nominated for an Eisner award.

Huge thanks to Nicole for such an insightful post into her illustration process, and to David Fickling Books for inviting me to take part in teh blog tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.

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