Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story” as Want to Read:
Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story

(Glencoe Literature Library #15)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,234 ratings  ·  253 reviews
If only Mma was here, Naledi wished over and over. . .

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, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It
Paperback, 96 pages
Published December 24th 2002 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1986)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Journey to Jo'burg, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,234 ratings  ·  253 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ove ...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 stran ...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 ba ...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
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 thei ...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.
Tiwary Amit
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic in all senses. Glad that Arhat is picking up on these books now and we are also able to read it :-)
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
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.
Amber Scaife
Jun 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
When their baby sister falls seriously ill, two young South African siblings set out from home to make the 200+ mile journey to Johannesburg to find their mother, who works as a housekeeper for a rich, white family.

This middle grade book has some issues, I think. It seems clear that the point of the novel is to point up some of the major problems with apartheid, but at the same time it seems to downplay those problems too much. The dangers and massive injustices inherent in that system are menti
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Should be required reading.

I had the privilege of ‘meeting’ Beverley Naidoo in a Zoom lecture recently and was so inspired by her and her story I knew I had to pick this book up immediately. Reading it, I am so impressed how Naidoo has tackled a very brutal and disturbing topic and made it accessible, while thought provoking, to children.

Naidoo talked about teaching children to THINK, not just facts and dates. As an educator, that really resonated with me. Our children need to be able to see th
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of two young children who travel 300 km from their small village to Johannesburg, when their baby sister falls seriously ill, to tell their mother who works there as a maid. During the journey, they become aware of the harsh realities of apartheid; facing danger and prejudice. In summary, it is a story of hope and determination, amidst segregation and oppression.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
4,25 stars English paperback - I have dyslexia -
It cut through me like a knife through boter. 🦋🦋🌸🌸
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book gives the reader a small taste of what apartheid was like in South Africa!
Guilherme Semionato
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Insanely sad, insanely hopeful, short, clear, straight to the heart. Its simplicity is striking.
Sarah Lee
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
I give this book 2 stars because I don’t think the author described racism clearly and this book is not a good example of apartheid in South Africa.
Aug 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5 stars rounded up to 4.
It was a good and informative middle grade book for me. I liked the child narrator a lot.
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. ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Naidoo, B. (1986). Journey to Jo’Burg: 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 grandmother’s 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 Jo’Burg 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 expose
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 conte ...more
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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 le
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sara Darr
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 explo
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 the ...more
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 . ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum
  • Call It Courage
  • Seven Daughters and Seven Sons
  • Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar
  • Red Sand, Blue Sky
  • Shadow Spinner
  • Living Water in the Desert: True Stories of God at Work in Iran (Hidden Heroes)
  • Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters
  • Rickshaw Girl
  • Teresa of Calcutta: Serving the Poorest of the Poor
  • Listening for Lions
  • Journey To The Eastern Hemisphere
  • Water Sky
  • The Kite Fighters
  • A Girl Named Disaster
  • Habibi
  • The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam
  • Oranges in No Man's Land
See similar books…
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.

Other books in the series

Glencoe Literature Library (8 books)
  • Bearstone: With Related Readings (Glencoe Literature Library, #8)
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Related Readings (Glencoe Literature Library, #10)
  • Frankenstein and Related Readings (Glencoe Literature Library, #27)
  • ... y no se lo tragó la tierra ... and the Earth Did Not Devour Him
  • High Elk's Treasure And Related Readings (Glencoe Literature Library)
  • A Tale of Two Cities with Related Readings (Glencoe Literature Library)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)

Related Articles

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
31 likes · 3 comments