2018 Children’s Africana Book Award Winners

Children’s Africana Book Awards 2018


Angela Brooksbank, illus.
 South Africa 
Kathryn  Erskine
Charly Palmer, illus
Farrar, Strauss, Giroux
Portia Dery
Toby Newsome, illus.
African Bureau Stories


Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl
Sandra van Doorn, illus.
Wanuri Kahiu
Manuela Adreani, illus.

    OLDER READERS                                                                                      

Honor Book
Kwame Alexander
Mary Rand Hess

South Africa
Arushi Raina

Honor Book
Nnedi Okorafor

Notable Book
Leah Henderson

Notable Book
Keely Hutton
Farrar Straus Giroux


Imbolo Mbue
Random House

 Best Books for Young Children

Baby Goes to Market. Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank (illus). Candlewick, 2017.

Atinuke is the author of many picture books that include her popular Anna Hibiscus series. Baby Goes to Market is a delightful read-aloud story by this award winning author. Along with the enchanting illustrations by Angela Brooksbank, this charming counting book is grounded in an authentic setting of a bustling west African market. Atinuke’s roots among the Yoruba of southwest Nigeria together with Angela Brookbank’s early years living in Ghana and Nigeria combine to tell a fun account of everyday encounters and transactions.


Mama Africa, How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song. Kathryn Erskine and Charly Palmer (illus.).  Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017.

This book creatively articulates Miriam Makeba’s biography as a political activist through her voice as a musician. The author illustrates that Miriam expressed herself through her songs. She sang in church, and sang not only to entertain but also to expose injustices of apartheid South Africa to her fellow countrymen and the whole world. The book illustrations are ingenious and appealing to readers.

Grandma’s List. Portia Dery and  Toby Newsome (illus.) African Bureau Stories, 2017.

Grandma’s List is a colorful picture book about an 8 year old girl, Fatima, who wants to save the day by helping her Grandma complete her chore list. After convincing her Grandma that she is old enough to help, she dashes off proudly to start tackling the list by running errands around her neighborhood. The problem is, Fatima loses the list and she has to recall by memory what was written on the list.

Honor Books for Young Children

The Wooden Camel. Wanuri Kahiu and Manuela Adreani (illus). Lantarna, 2017.

Etabo dreams of being a camel racer. One day he might even beat his older brother when they race. But with the price of water rising, Etabo’s father must sell the camels, and his siblings must find work. What will Etabo do now? From acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu and Italian illustrator Manuela Adreani, this story of love and hope centers on the inspiring Turkana people of northwest Kenya.


Sleep Well, Siba & Saba. Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahi and Sandra Van Doom.  Lantana, 2017.

Forgetful Ugandan sisters Siba and Saba are always losing something. Sandals, slippers, sweaters you name it, they lose it. When the two sisters fall asleep each night, they dream about the things they have lost that day. Until, one night, their dreams begin to reveal something entirely unexpected,(/div>

Best Book for Older Readers

When Morning Comes. Arushi Raina. Tradewinds, 2017.

Set against the background of the 1976 Soweto student march against the Bantu Education Act, When Morning Comes is a multi-faceted novel that covers many important themes: the segregation of Black, White, and Indian racial groups in apartheid South Africa; the intelligence and determination of Black youth to plan and execute a political movement; adolescent idealism to give up all for a cause they passionately believe in; interracial cooperation; and a love triangle. Arushi Raina employs plot, characterization, and narrative style to advance the above themes with sophistication.

Honor Books for Older Readers

Solo. Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess. Blink, 2017.

Told in prose and song, Solo is a young adult novel about a gifted high school musician who experiences heartbreak, public humiliation and an identity crisis on the eve of his high school graduation. Part one of the novel takes place in Hollywood, part two in rural Ghana.

Akata Warrior.  Nnedi Okorafor.  Viking, 2017.

Now stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny Nwazue, along with her friends from the the Leopard Society, travel through worlds, both visible and invisible, to the mysterious town of Osisi, where they fight in a climactic battle to save humanity.

Notable Books for Older Readers

One Shadow on the Wall.  Leah Henderson. Simon and Schuster, 2017.

In Senegal, eleven-year-old orphan Mor has three months to prove to his aunt that he can support himself and his two younger sisters, allowing them to stay together in their village and fulfilling the promise he made to their dying father, but a malicious gang of boys threatens Mor’s success and his integrity.


Soldier Boy. Keely Hutton,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

Soldier Boy details the plight of child soldiers, both boys and girls, in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) over a twenty-year period of the civil war in northern Uganda. The story is told from the perspectives of two child soldiers: Samuel, 11, whose story is a fictionalized account based on the actual experiences of former child soldiers in Uganda, according to the author’s note.

Best New Adult Book

Behold the Dreamers. Imbolo Mbue. Random House, 2017,

A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream–the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy New York.