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DESMOND AND THE VERY MEAN WORD by Desmond Tutu

DESMOND AND THE VERY MEAN WORD

By Desmond Tutu (Author) , Douglas Carlton Abrams (Author) , A.G. Ford (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5229-6
Publisher: Candlewick

Archbishop Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, remembers a life-changing and life-affirming moment from his childhood in racist South Africa.

The boy Desmond is out for a ride on his brand-new bicycle when a white boy shouts a terrible word at him. That word is never specified, but it is one that he cannot forget. Very upset, he visits his mentor, Father Trevor, who gently instructs him on the power of forgiveness; it’s something done from one’s heart and does not require an admission of regret from the speaker. At first, Desmond cannot embrace this concept and shouts his own mean word back. Later, though, he sees the white boy being bullied. When the two boys encounter each other in town, the white boy shares candy with Desmond. Tutu, writing with Abrams in the third person, effectively shares his message with young readers, presenting it in humanitarian terms, not as a religious precept. Ford’s full-page oil paintings are expressive, portraying anger and finally, triumph as Desmond metaphorically “embrace[s] the whole world in his outstretched arms.”

A thought-provoking lesson for young readers on the destructiveness of bullying and racism. (letter to readers from Tutu, author’s note) (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)