Will's Reviews > Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story

Journey to Jo'burg by Beverley Naidoo
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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 over. Things are not as simple as they thought they would be. They have to stay with their new friend for the night, then travel back with their mother the next day. They experience a tense few days while Dineo is in hospital. This part of the story opens the children’s eyes even more to the uncertainties and dangers of life in South Africa.

This is a book from the SFA scheme of work. It has a Reading Focus; to investigate what makes a reader want to read on after the first page. And a Writing Focus; to add a new scene to the story. I read this to a year 6 class and they really enjoyed it, interested in exploring the history and learning about the issues that faced South Africa.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 20, 2011 – Shelved
November 20, 2011 – Finished Reading

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Carole I read this book with my Year 4 class some years ago as part of an English module about ‘issues and dilemmas’. It was recommended on an online teachers’ website. During the course of the module we had a visit from two black South African people, who talked with the children and provided an up to date perspective on how SA had changed since apartheid ended. I found it very encouraging how the class reacted with such indignation or even anger at the attitudes portrayed in the novel. They were disgusted, for example, that black children could be shouted at or abused for getting on a whites-only bus, or that the children’s mother could be threatened with losing her job if she took many days to care for her very seriously ill child. In an environment where some might have expected the children in my class to have adopted some racist attitudes outside school, it was wonderful to see that they had no such thing. They give one hope for the future.


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