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The Day Gogo Went to Vote
Sisulu, Elinor Batezat ; Sharon Wilson (illus.) The Day Gogo Went to Vote. Boston: Little, Brown, 1996. $14.95, ISBN 0 316 70267 6.

Note: Thembi and her beloved great-grandmother, who has not left the house for many years, go together to vote on the momentous day when black South Africans vote for the first time. Winner of the 1997 African Studies Children Book Award for Young Children.

April 26, 1994, was the day of South Africa's first democratic elections. This is the moving story of that historic day told through the eyes of a six-year-old girl, Thembi, who accompanies her grandmother, Gogo, to vote for the first time. It captures vividly and in simple but powerful language the magic of that day. The book will appeal to a child's easy sense of wonder. People went to great lengths to vote. Everyone is surprised when Gogo, who had not left the house for a long time announced she was going to vote. It is a moment everyone has been waiting for. When Gogo says she wants to vote everyone tries to discourage her since she is frail, but Gogo insists, and asks, "You want me to die not having voted?" Gogo says she will vote, "no matter how many miles I have to walk, no matter how long I have to stand in line." The whole community is involved; a rich neighbor gives Gogo a ride in his car. At the polls, everybody cheers because, at 100 years old Gogo is the oldest voter. This beautifully illustrated book not only captures an important moment, it also shows a community and how people are connected. It is also hopeful. Whereas in the old days, when Gogo went to the pensions office she was treated rudely, in the new South Africa she is treated with the respect due someone her age. The books ends with parties and Gogo's picture in the paper. Both children and adults will enjoy this touching story.

Rating: HR Grade: P Type: Book

Reviewed by: Lesego Malepe, Wheaton College

Subject: South Africa / Fiction / CABA Winner / Urban setting / City and town life/ Black author