A white South African who grew up in apartheid, Wright captures the largely untold story of Hector Zolile Pieterson, who died in the Soweto student protest against mandatory lessons in Afrikaans in 1976 and whose photograph alerted the rest of the world to apartheid’s impact on black children.
Told graphic novel–style through dialogue and narrative in frames illustrated in pastel colors and earth tones, this story emerged from interviews Wright held with Pieterson’s family members as well as from research on the photographer of the historic photo, Sam Mzima, and Mbuyisa Makhubu, a teenage good Samaritan who carried Hector’s limp body from the scene where the police threw tear gas and shot and killed children. This powerful story offers three perspectives: Hector’s, his sister, Antoinette’s, and photographer Sam’s, respectively. Sam hid his most important roll of film in his sock to keep it from the Afrikaner police, who ruined his other rolls of film to prevent public awareness of this massacre. While the details of Hector’s life help readers realize that he was just a regular boy who didn’t deserve to die under this unjust system of segregation, this portrayal of the protesting teens also emphasizes how much power children can have when they stand up for their rights.
A tragic but inspiring story about an event in South Africa’s history that must never be forgotten. (historical note, author’s note, biographies, glossary, bibliography) (Graphic biography. 8-12)