Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams illustrated by AG Ford
When Desmond takes his new bicycle out for a ride through his neighborhood, his pride and joy turn to hurt and anger when a group of boys shout a very mean word at him. He first responds by shouting an insult, but soon discovers that fighting back with mean words doesn’t make him feel any better. With the help of kindly Father Trevor, Desmond comes to understand his conflicted feelings and see that all people deserve compassion, whether or not they say they are sorry. Brought to vivid life in A. G. Ford’s energetic illustrations, this heartfelt, relatable story conveys timeless wisdom about how to handle bullying and angry feelings, while seeing the good in everyone.
Children Africana Book Award Winner 2014. Named Best Book for Young Children by the Children's Africana Book Awards
2014 Living the Dream Book Award
An actual event from the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s childhood forms the heart of a story about the difficulties and rewards of forgiveness. Young Desmond proudly rides his new bike through the streets of the township when he encounters a group of aggressive boys who taunt him with a “very mean word.” Desmond struggles with his own feelings of anger and retribution, but, after wise counsel from trusted mentor Father Trevor, finds his way to forgive. Writing again with Abrams (God’s Dream, 2008), Tutu offers a clear telling that feels much like a children’s homily, the earnest tone and clean language (the offending word is never mentioned) reflecting his own wholesome spirit. Ford’s dynamic paintings, with well-defined outlines and dramatic light, match the clarity of the narrative. The images fill the large-trim spreads, capturing the immediacy of the conflict and the tranquility of the resolution. An author’s note offers more information about the event, and the mentor, that inspired the story. Grades 1-4. --Barthelmess, Thom