Author : Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams Publisher : Candlewick Age : 6 years +
Author : Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams
Publisher : Candlewick
Age : 6 years +

This is one of the most powerful stories we’ve read during our cuddle time.
It is a true story of Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he was a little boy.
A dear book to me… this special one now sits on a special section on my bookshelf 🙂

The illustrations certainly add to the story. The story comes alive with A.G. Ford's wonderful oil paintings.
The illustrations certainly add to the story. The story comes alive with A.G. Ford’s wonderful oil paintings.

The story is about a boy called Desmond who is out riding his brand new bike, feeling very happy and excited. He is on his way to meet Father Trevor when a group of young boys start to tease him and call him names. They yell a very mean word at Desmond (that word is never specified – wise touch by Archbishop I feel) that spoils his day and he is unable to forget the incident.

tutu 8 Very upset, he wants to get back at the boys and tells Father Trevor of his anger.


Father Trevor gently tells Desmond that continuing the cycle of hurt is not the wisest option.
“You will get them back, and then they will get you back, and soon our whole world will be filled with nothing but ‘getting back.” (Well said!)


Desmond finds difficulty understanding the concept and eventually resorts to name calling himself. However, he realizes that after getting his ‘revenge’ and shouting back the meanest word he could think of… it didn’t make him feel better. It left a very bitter taste in his mouth…

tutu 6  Father Trevor teaches Desmond about forgiveness.

Desmond is not able to understand how one can forgive if there were no apologies.

Ahhh… that’s the power and magic of forgiveness.

This is my favourite part of the story… see how it’s beautifully explained.

tutu 9


I almost cried while reading this story.
One, it’s a beautiful book on forgiveness (you’ll have to read the book to find out how it ends)
Two, because of my son’s response to the story. It was too cute really. The following conversation took place just after I read the bit on how Desmond felt a bitter taste in his mouth after shouting a very mean word at his bullies…

Sprinter: Let me try….
I love you mummy… (licking his lips) Mmm… yes it tastes sweet. (nodding head)

Me: Aww… that was a sweet thing to say. Wanna try saying something mean?

Sprinter: (deep frown) Hmmmph!
(eyes looking up now and making those licking sounds again…) Yea, yea! It tastes bitter. (shaking his head and muttering to himself!)

Hahaha… I didn’t expect that!
I loved how he took the meaning literally and tried tasting the words, concluding it really is sweet or bitter!
AND how his version of mean was a simple ‘hmmph’! So cute 😛

tutu 4

The age recommendation for this book may be 6 to 10 but this book is certainly a good read for adults too. The story is a little text heavy hence it is highly recommended for young readers in grade school… but just paraphrase some ‘long or challenging’ bits along the way and a 5 year old can equally enjoy and appreciate the goodness of the story. It is a captivating and a very powerful story… my boy was glued to the storytelling from start to finish.

tutu 3

The book includes an author’s note which provides information (and a photo!) about the real Father Trevor who eventually become Archbishop Huddleston. Archbishop Tutu and his wife named their first son Trevor in his honor.

I am most impressed with this book. It is a well-written and thought-provoking book that helps you think about how to handle issues such as bullying, anger, tolerance, compassion and the power and importance of forgiveness.

Timeless and universal story… wise words from a wise man.
Friends, please look out for this book at the libraries. An absolute must-read!
I’m even including the call number:  English TUT. Cheers!