2019 Children’s Africana Book Awards

Coups de coeurs Notes de Lecture

The Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) are presented annually to the authors and illustrators of the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published or republished in the U.S. The awards were created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) to encourage the publication and use of accurate, balanced children’s materials about Africa. The awards are presented in two categories: Young Children and Older Readers.

Best Book: New Adults (South Africa)

Click for a larger image of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Read a Description of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood


Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Praise for Born a Crime

“[A] compelling new memoir . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“[An] unforgettable memoir.”—Parade

“[Noah’s] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class.”—Booklist(starred review)

“A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations.”—Kirkus Reviews



Best Book: Older Readers (Nigeria)

Book Description: 

The first book in a trilogu, In Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha) Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir..

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powersand her growing feelings for an enemy.

Best Book: Young Children (Uganda)

Click for a larger image of Sing to the Moon

Sing to the Moon
by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl

Publication Date: Oct 01, 2018
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9781911373391
Imprint: Lantana Publishing
Publisher: Lantana Publishing
Parent Company: Lantana Publishing
Borrow from Library

Read a Description of Sing to the Moon

Book Description: 
For one little Ugandan boy, no wish is too big. First he dreams of reaching the stars and then of riding a supernova straight to Mars. But on a rainy day at his grandfather’s house, he is brought down to earth with a bump. Do adventures only happen in galaxies far away or can he find magic a little closer to home? A touching story of a grandfather’s love for his grandson and the quiet pleasures of a rainy day.

Honor Book: Young Children (South Africa)

Click for a larger image of Grandad Mandela

Grandad Mandela by Zazi, Ziwelene, and Zindzi Mandela, Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Publisher: The Quarto Group

Read a Description of Grandad Mandela

Book Description: 
“…profoundly moving…” -Publishers Weekly

Nelson Mandela’s two great-grandchildren ask their grandmother, Mandela’s youngest daughter, 15 questions about their grandad the global icon of peace and forgiveness who spent 27 years in prison. They learn that he was a freedom fighter who put down his weapons for the sake of peace, and who then became the President of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and realise that they can continue his legacy in the world today. Seen through a child’s perspective, and authored jointly by Nelson Mandela’sgreat-grandchildren and daughter, this amazing story is told as never before to celebrate what would have been Nelson’s Mandela 100th birthday.

Honor Book: Young Children (Niger)

Book Description: 

Animal Village, a children’s picture book, is an authentic folk tale from the Zarma culture of West Africa about a tortoise who saves her village from the ravages of drought with wisdom passed down from an “old story.” Nelda LaTeef’s colorful and strikingly brilliant montage of illustrations, in acrylic and collage, captures the richness and vibrancy of the sub-Saharan culture from which the story springs.

The story is especially relevant to sub-Saharan Africa as it focuses on the devastation of drought and the importance of received knowledge. With its dual themes of wisdom and grit, the book happily entertains while it teaches the importance of hard work and persistence as keys to success.

Honor Book: Young Children (Ghana)

Do you know that the African woman’s cover cloth has many uses? In this delightful book that young children will enjoy, a little girl shares the many uses of her mother’s amazing cover cloth.

Honor Book: Older Readers (Morocco)

Book Description: 

“A refreshing and unique coming-of-age story…a beautiful and necessary meditation on finding strength in one’s culture.” Entertainment Weekly, Top Pick of the Month

“A YA marvel that will shock breath into your lungs. If you loved The Wrath and the Dawn and Children of Blood and BoneMirage will captivate you.” —The Christian Science Monitor

This debut fantasy has what it takes to be the next big thing in sci-fi/fantasy.” SLJ, starred review

Immersive, captivating.” ALA Booklist, starred review

In a world dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated home.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fianc?, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.



Honor Book: Older Readers (South Africa)

Click for a larger image of Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince

Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince
by Luke W. Molver

Book Description: 

“In a land beset by political turmoil and bloody conflict comes the epic saga of Shaka. Ousted by one of his chief father’s jealous wives and raised in exile, his destiny is sealed through allegiance to a rival chief. Responding to threats from expanding slave trade in southern Africa, Shaka consolidates a new kingdom through warfare, mediation, and shrewd diplomacy. A 2019 Children’s Africana Book Awards Honor Book for Older Readers.

A worthy introduction that offers a young Anglophone audience entry into a legend of Africa without the annoyance of overtranslation and with refreshingly three-dimensional characters.” —Kirkus

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