Winner Profiles 2018


Atinuke, author of Baby Goes to Market was born in Ibadan, Nigeria to a Nigerian university lecturer father and an English editor mother. She lived in Nigeria until the age of 10  when she moved to England to attend boarding school. Later she attended the University of York where she studied English and Commonwealth Literature. She is the author of a series of early readers inspired by her life in Nigeria. Currently she lives in Wales. Author’s website





Angela Brooksbank

Angela Brooksbank grew up in Ghana and Nigeria. When she was a baby, her mother often took her to the markets, and she remembers the exciting, busy atmosphere full of vibrant colors . She worked as a designer and art director in children’s book publishing before turning her hand to her own illustration. Baby Goes to Market is her debut picture book. She lives in London. Illustrator’s Website





Kathryn Erskine

Kathryn Erskine is a Netherland’s born American author of children’s literature. She lived in South Africa for part of her childhood which coincided with apartheid and grew up listening to Miriam Makeba’s songs. Mama Africa is her first picture book.  She makes her home in Virginia. Author’s Website






Charly Palmer

Charly Palmer is a graphic designer, illustrator, and fine artist. He studied art and design at the American Academy of Art and the School of the Art Institute, both in Chicago. He lives and works in Atlanta. Mama Africa is his first picture book. Illustrator’s Website






Nansubuga Isdahl

Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl was born in the U.S. to Ugandan parents. For over ten years she has worked in international development  in East and Southern Africa. Sleep Well Siba and Saba is her debut picture book.







Sandra van Doorn

Sandra van Doorn illustrator of Siba and Saba was born in France and now lives in Australia. She attended art classes at Emily Carr University in Vancouver before embarking on her career as a children’s illustrator. Illustrator’s Website






Wanuri Kahiu

Wanuri Kahiu, born in Nairobi, Kenya, is an award-winning filmmaker. The Wooden Camel is her first picture book. Author’s Website







Maneula Adreani

Maneula Adreani, illustrator of The Wooden Camel, is a children’s book illustrator living in Turin, Italy. Her accolades include winning the illustration contest for the 130th anniversary of the creation of Pinocchio. Illustrator’s Website






Portia Dery

Portia Dery, author of Grandma’s List, is a Ghanaian based in Tamale. She is an activist for literacy in Africa and the founder and current director of AYWO, the African Youth Organization. Grandma’s List is her first book.






Toby Newsome

Toby Newsome, illustrator of Grandma’s List, is a South African illustrator based in Cape Town. He works in publishing and advertising for clients around the world. He has a passion for narrative illustration and loves making a great story come to life on the page. Illustrator’s Website






Arushi Raina

Arushi Raina is a consultant by day and she fills her remaining hours with writing. She grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa but also lived in Egypt, Nigeria, India, the US and the UK.  Currently she resides in Vancouver, Canada. When Morning Comes is her first book. Author’s Website






Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor, author of Akata Warrior,  is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction and fantasy for both children and adults. Born in the United States to Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. Author’s Website






Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander, author of Solo, is a poet, educator, and a New York Times Bestselling author of over 25 books, including Solo.  His novel Rebound is the follow-up to his Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover.  He is the co-founder of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program. Author’s Website






Mary Rand Hess

Mary Rand Hess is a poet, screenwriter, mixed-media artist, and New York Times bestselling author of notable and award-winning books. She co-authored Solo and Swing with Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander.  Author’s Website






Leah Henderson

Leah Henderson was born in Andover, MA. She graduated from Tufts University, has an MFA in Writing  and is on faculty at Spalding University’s MFA program. She currently calls Washington, D.C. home. One Shadow on the Wall is her first novel. Author’s Website






Keely Hutton

Keely Hutton is an educational journalist and former teacher. She lives in Fairport, New York. Since 2001 she has been working with Ugandan Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story about his experiences as a child soldier. Soldier Boy is her first novel. Author’s Website






Imbolo Mbue

mbolo Mbue was born in the seaside town of Limbe, Cameroon. A graduate of Rutgers and Columbia universities, she currently lives in New York City. Behold the Dreamers is her first novel. Author’s Website