The South African government is forcing Naledi an the other villagers to move to a new location: a "homeland" of iron huts and barren soil. And it seems that no one is willing to resist.
No one, that is, except Naledi's friend Taolo, whose family has often spoken out against apartheid. Taolo gives Naledi the strength to fight, and with his help, she and her schoolmates organize an anti-removal march through the village. But the right of free expression is not a liberty granted to the young protesters, and the police instigate a reign of terror on the villagers. Naledi and Taolo's chain of fiery resistance cannot be broken, though. With each new crisis, it grows ever stronger and burns ever brighter.
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Beverley Naidoo grew up in South Africa under apartheid. She says: "As a white child I didn't question the terrible injustices until I was a student. I decided then that unless I joined the resistance, I was part of the problem." Beverley Naidoo was detained without trial when she was twenty-one and later went into exile in Britain, where she has since lived.
Her first children's book, Journey to Jo'burg, was banned in South Africa until 1991, but it was an eye-opener for thousands of readers worldwide. Her characters in Chain of Fire, No Turning Back, and Out of Bounds face extraordinary challenges in a society she describes as "more dangerous than any fantasy." She has won many awards for her writing, including the Carnegie Medal, the Jane Addams Book Award, and the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults for The Other Side of Truth, about two refugee children smuggled to London who are also featured in Web of Lies.
Eric Velasquez has illustrated numerous childrenís books including Chain of Fire and Journey to Joíburg: A South African Story, both by Beverly Naidoo. He lives in New York City.From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-8-- Naledi and Tiro, the children in Naidoo's Journey to Jo'Burg (Harper, 1986), return in a longer tale that stands on its own but is enhanced by the reading of its predecessor. The story begins with the sudden announcement that the people of Naledi's village are to be removed to "the homeland" in four weeks' time. With every reason to believe few will survive the removal, the villagers choose to resist, their determination fired by the righteous indignation of their young. Naledi, her friend Taolo, and three others are elected student representatives in the resistance, and together they organize a peaceful student march as a demonstration of unity and strength. But the police anticipate their plan, and the march ends in violence. Events accelerate. Homes are bulldozed, families are separated, and Taolo's father is murdered. The removal is accomplished and, for the moment, it seems the white government has won. But Naledi and her neighbors are no longer the same villagers who once clung passively to subsistence. They are becoming a unified people, with a recognizable enemy and no end of heroes alive and dead around whom to rally--and the beginnings of a political mechanism through which to do so. As Naledi and the others have matured, politically, since the first book, so Naidoo has matured markedly as a writer. She demonstrates an insight into her characters and their condition--particularly the role of the young in initiating and sustaining rebellion that was far less evident in Journey. . . Chain of Fire flows effortlessly, with power and grace, as it succeeds in making a foreign culture immediate and real. Truly it is the grimmer tale, but one that, in light of its own truth as well as of recent events, readers might look at with a trace more hope. --Marcia Hupp, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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