2017 Children’s Africana Book Award Winners

Announcing the 25th Annual
Children’s Africana Book Awards


Young Children Older Readers
Ghana Morocco South Africa

Emily Williamson

Evan Turk

Equal Education


Older Readers
Ghana Ivory Coast  Ghana

Adwoa Badoe

Tara Sullivan

Manu Herbstein


Older Readers
South Africa

Janice Warman


Gizo-Gizo! A Tale From the Zongo Lagoon.  Emily Williamson with the students and teachers of the Hassaniyya Quranic School in Cape Coast Ghana. Legon-Accra: Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2016. (African Books Collective, distributor)

A group of animal friends live around a lagoon. Spider, known as Gizo-Gizo in the Hausa language, is the laziest of the friends and begins to treat the lagoon and his friends poorly. He is warned by his friends to protect the lagoon because “it belongs to all of us.” He doesn’t heed their warning and builds a mining factory that pollutes the lagoon so much that all the animals get sick. He, himself, ultimately gets sick and that becomes his turning point. Working closely with local teachers in Cape Coast, Ghana to teach students about local water and environmental concerns graduate student Emily Williamson engaged students in dialogue, shared readings, performances, writing exercises, and visual art, culminating in community drama performances and original folktales. The illustrations and text of this book grew directly out of the work produced in these workshops. (Ages 4 – 10) Read interview with Emily Williamson 

The Storyteller. Evan Turk. New York, Atheneum, 2016.

Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, refreshing water to quench the thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together. But as the kingdom grew, the people forgot the dangers of the desert, and they forgot about the storytellers, too. All but one young boy, who came to the Great Square for a drink and found something that quenched his thirst even better: wonderful stories. As he listened to the last storyteller recount the Endless Drought, and the Glorious Blue Water Bird, he discovered the power of a tale well told. (Ages 6 – 9) Read Interview with Evan Turk


Amagama Enkululeko! Words for Freedom: Writing Life Under Apartheid. Equal Education, Muizenberg, South Africa. Cover2Cover, 2016. (African Books Collective, distributor)

With a foreword by Zakes Mda, and a mixture of famous and seemingly forgotten struggle writers, this anthology tackles the history of colonialism and Apartheid from the ground up. Through a blend of history and story-telling, it opens a window onto the ways ordinary, everyday life was shaped by the forces of history. It displays the anger, suffering, love, joy, courage and enduring humanity of ordinary people and communities striving for dignity, freedom and justice. (Ages 12 and up)


Aluta. Adwoa Badoe  Berkeley: Groundwood / House of Anansi, 2016.

University life is better than Charlotte ever imagined– a sophisticated and generous roommate, the camaraderie of dorm living, parties, clubs, and boyfriends. Most of all, Charlotte is exposed to new ideas, and in 1981 Ghana, this may be the most exciting– and most dangerous — adventure of all. (Ages 15 and up) Read interview with Adwoa Badoe.

Bitter Side of Sweet. Tara Sullivan. New York: G.P. Putnam, 2016.

Kept as forced labor on a chocolate plantation in the Ivory Coast, Amadou and his younger brother Seydou had given up hope, until a young girl arrives at the camp who rekindles the urge to escape. (Ages 12 and up) Read Interview with Tara Sullivan 

The Boy Who Spat in Sargrenti’s Eye, Manu Herbstein. Ghana, Techmate, 2016.

Kofi Gyan, the 15-year old boy who spits in Sargrenti’s eye, is the nephew of the chief of Elmina, a town on the Atlantic coast of Ghana. On Christmas Day, 1871, Kofi’s godfather gives him a diary as a Christmas present and charges him with the task of keeping a personal record of the momentous events through which they are living. This novel is a transcription of Kofi’s diary. (Ages 12 and up) Read interview with Manu Herbstein


 The World Beneath. Janice Warman.  Somervillle, Candlewick, 2016. 

At the height of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, a boy must face life decisions that test what he believes and call for no turning back. South Africa, 1976. Joshua lives with his mother in the maid’s room, in the backyard of their wealthy white employers’ house in the city by the sea. He doesn’t quite understand the events going on around him. But when he rescues a stranger and riots begin to sweep the country, Joshua has to face the world beneath–the world deep inside him–to make heartbreaking choices that will change his life forever. ((Ages 12 and up)



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.

Africa Access
Boston University. African Studies Center
Harvard University. Committee on African Studies
Howard University. Center for African Studies
Michigan State, University.African Studies Center
University of Florida. Center for African Studies
University of Illinois, Champaign. Center for African Studies
University of Minnesota. African American and African Studies
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. African Studies Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison. African Studies Program
Yale University. Council on African Studies

The Africa Memory Game
Books to Brushes
Community Audiology Services
Harriet McGuire
Lange Schermerhorn
Jo Sullivan
Center for African Studies, Howard University
Deborah Kalb Books Blogspot
Library of Congress, Young Readers Center
An Open Book Foundation
Politics and Prose
Port of Harlem
Sankofa Cafe
Turning the Page
Tutu’s Storybooks