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Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,833 ratings  ·  209 reviews
The bestselling classic set in South Africa during the apartheid era, in which two siblings must face the dangers of their divided country. 

Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Tiro, call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know that they need to bring their mother
Paperback, 112 pages
Published December 30th 2019 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1986)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  1,833 ratings  ·  209 reviews

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Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is about two children who live in a poor village in South Africa. Their mother works far away in Johannesburg and their father died from a disease caught in the mines. Their little sister is desperately ill and the two children decide to walk to the city to bring their mother home. The story tells of their awakening to the situation in their country of the appalling treatment of blacks by the rich white people. The children finally find their mother, but their troubles are not yet ...more
Carli Vallance
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book humbling and heartwarming. It is written from the viewpoint of two young children in South Africa who struggle to understand the injustice they and their families face. When their baby sister falls gravely ill they courageously decide to travel 300km from their small village to Johannesburg to summon their mother from work. The physical journey is symbolic of their awakening to the wider realities of apartheid; they face danger and experience prejudice, but also meet kind ...more
Clare O'Beara
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, africa
If you have read The Help, this is an equivalent book for children. The period is South Africa's apartheid years, and while I'm rating four for writing, I'm rating another star for the depiction of tendencies towards popular activism and bringing about change. I also like that there is a simple map.

Two kids see their little sister getting very ill but the lady who cares for them doesn't have money for a hospital. So the pair bravely decide to walk to their mother who works as a housekeeper and
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this moving story by Beverley Naidoo. Set against the dangerous landscape of Apartheid South Africa, Journey to Jo'burg is an inspiring story of two young courageous children, a brother and sister called Naledi and Tiro. The story follows their journey from their small village in South Africa to Jo'burg, about 300 miles away, in search of their mother. Their younger sister, Dineo, is very ill and Naledi decides that they need to travel to Jo'burg to bring their mother ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading the class reader for year 6, this is a good book to start the conversation on what segregation is and to help kids to be deeper thinkers - i think the teacher says for them to be introspective. This was a banned book in SA a while back.. let the conversation begin.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a brilliant read and a great introduction to children in KS2 about life in South Africa for black people, the Apartheid and segregation. It follows a brother and sister's journey to Johannesburg in search for their Mother who works their to tell her of their sister's illness in hope she will come home to save her. They discover it is not a simple journey as they encounter some of the dangers living in their apartheid but meeting some friendly people along the way help them to reach ...more
Jenni McReddie
Touching story of how two courageous children make an incredible journey during the terrifying apartheid in South Africa. Very short story, but has so much potential for further learning.
Erin Reilly-Sanders
While this short little novel was an interesting peak into living conditions in South Africa, I found it to be a little didactic. The story seemed somewhat unbelievable, as if the author wanted to show us about South Africa and this was simply the method she chose to use. The lack of consideration for how to get home again and the costs of eating and lodging in the city is maybe explained by the country upbringing of the children, but the story also suggests that the hospital was so outrageously ...more
Imogen Walker
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to my year 4 class whilst on my second year placement. Our topic for the term was the Apartheid, this book was great as it helped give the children a better understanding, as well as it being about young children in that time, therefore more meaningful for them. Great book.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,25 stars English paperback - I have dyslexia -
It cut through me like a knife through boter. 🦋🦋🌸🌸
Laura Rae
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives the reader a small taste of what apartheid was like in South Africa!
Sarah Lee
I give this book 2 stars because I dont think the author described racism clearly and this book is not a good example of apartheid in South Africa. ...more
Jane Branson
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an important book about a moment in African history. Amazing how times have changed - when I was first teaching this was definitely a KS3 book. Now, and rightly, it's being taught in KS2.
Naidoo, B. (1986). Journey to JoBurg: A South African Story. New York: HarperTrophy.


Set in historical South Africa during the time of apartheid, Naledi and her brother Tiro worry about their sick younger sister. Certain that their sister needs a doctor, they decide to disobey their grandmothers wishes and leave their small town to journey to Johannesburg where their mother works as a servant to get her help.

While on their journey the children are helped by several other black people
Sam Hopper
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Journey to JoBurg is set in South Africa during the apartheid and tells the story of Naledi and Tiro who, frightened that their baby sister Dineo will die, take a 300km journey to find their mother who works there as a maid. On their journey they experience the oppressive and harsh realities of the apartheid including the segregation by colour, the Pass laws that require all black people to carry a passbook at all times and the extreme poverty alongside so much wealth.

Naledi and Tiro are exposed
Don't underestimate this short and easy read.I actually almost have up on it because this first time I tried reading it I got confused by the characters and went to sleep! I tried again tonight and I read the whole thing in one sitting!

What's great about this book is that on the surface it's a simple story. A couple of black South African kids travel to the city in search of their mom because their younger sister is sick. Seems simple enough, right? Well, you get to know and begin to care about
Summary: A short, but engrossing journey of two siblings Naledi and Tiro, who journey from Johannesburg to Jo'Burg because their baby sister has become very ill. In Jo'Burg, they find their mother, who works for a white family. The brother and sister mature very quickly from their trip to and from Jo'Burg because they learn more about the world around them, what their peers are fighting for, and the realities that are forced upon them. The reading level is S (guided reading level), but the ...more
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story, written by Beverley Naidoo , is about the journey a brother and sister, Naledi and Tiro, have to take to Johannesburg to try and find there mother as the little sister has become ill. Mma, the children's mother, works in Johannesburg which is 300km from their village. The book is set in the time of the Apartheid in South Africa and goes through the different things which are different today for black people.

I used this book within my Year 4 literacy
Sara Darr
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book but wish it could have been longer!

It is set in South Africa at the time of the Apartheid and tells the story of two courageous young children Naledi and Tiro who are worried that their baby sister Dineo will die. So they set off from their village and travel to Jo'burg, determined to bring their mother back to care for their baby sister. It deals with the main theme of prejudice and racism as well as family, love and empathy. It is a really simple and heartfelt story
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in South Africa, Naledi, a thirteen year old girl and her younger brother travel from their small village 300 km to get their mother (who works in Johannesburg) because their baby sister is very ill. They get help along the way from a number of people. In the process, Naledi learns about Apartheid from first hand experiences and stories from her friends. The book ends with her determined to speak with the older children at school and learn more. I think the book was a bit unrealistic in that ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spell binding story about the journey two children undertake to find their mother and bring her home. It focuses on their expereiences and the courage and determination they show. At its core is a prevading sense of an apartheid South Africa. It is moving, sad and exhilirating, all at the same time.Banned at the time by the government in South Africa, it also educational and contains lots of information about the author and her experiences, apartheid and a glossary of African words.

I loved
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juliet Jarrett
We are reading this book as an in-class novel but it's read independently. It is actually pretty good so far! This book is about to siblings, Naledi and Tiro, and their baby sister Dineo is very sick. Now they must go and tell their mother this, but there is one small problem. Their mother lives and works 300 miles away in Johannesburg. This book is about their trip to Jo'burg to rescue their sister. They go through all these obsticales to get there. They get caught stealing food, they loose ...more
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about two teenage trying to save their little brother by traveling a long journey, on their way they stole oranges, sneaked into someone's yard and slept in there and they very luckily got picked up by a truck. The book has got a interesting plot, and tells the readers the story in a very direct way .
Bossy Kiya (Jakiya)
I like it it was good so far i like that theyre tring to go on a misson to save there little sister. They're taking a risky chance to met up with their mother . And so far on the way there people are helping them.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reminded me of The Help. Was really sad and yet powerful. You really understand and feel for the characters who did not realize that simply because they were born a certain color that they will have struggles. Loved how it was told through a childs perspective. <3
Luna Bookish
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*Book given by the publisher via aWunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review*

What I Liked

This is a middle grade novel for children ages 8-12. This story following a sister and brother on a mission to find their mother and bring her home when their sibling is very ill and not getting better. I really liked that this story focuses on family connections and the young children determined to find their mother and help.

I also liked that this book opened up children to the lives of others and what
Amy Meyers
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are missionaries to South Africa. This book does vilify all white South Africans that appear in it, whether simply referenced (such as an orange farmer or townspeople) or actual secondary characters, such as the policemen in the pass raid or Mma's employer. There are no good whites. However, it's such a short book, that I think it's still a fair representation for children of what it would be like for the poor blacks growing up in apartheid, which was truly not a good thing. Many blacks have ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was aware of apartheid in South Africa in the late 1970s, as a young mixed-race girl, so some of things that happen in this book are of no surprise to me. However, the way Beverly Naidoo a white South African author brings this story to life, quite shockingly exposes how white people in South Africa disgustingly treated black people and should just feel a sense of shame about this period in history. Naidoo just tells it how it was.

This amazing story is about Naledi and her brother Tiro who
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Journey to Jo'Burg follows 13 year old Naledi and her young brother Tiro as they search for their Mma in Johannesburg. From a small village, Naledi and Tiro have only heard stories about the mistreatment and brutality of the police and white South Africans during Apartheid-divided South Africa. Through their journey to find their mom, the two main characters discover that the world around them is not as simple as they imagined. As their search for their mother continues, Naledi confronts her ...more
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Beverley Naidoo was born in South Africa on 21 May 1943 and grew up under apartheid. As a student, she began to question the apartheid regime and was later arrested for her actions as part of the resistance movement in South Africa. In 1965 she went into exile, going to England. She married another South African exile; they have two children.

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