Winner Profiles, 2016


Chicken in the Kitchen

Nnedi Okorafor is a novelist of Africa-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism 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. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, the New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”. She is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Buffalo.

Mehrdokht Amini went to Secondary School of Creative Arts in Tehran when she was 14 years old. An art teacher asked students to choose a story and make illustrations based on that. She chose The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Anderson and it was the first time she tried to illustrate a book. She enjoyed the process so much that she decided to continue her career in that direction. Other books she has illustrated include Panic in the Jungle, which she also wrote, and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. She is based in the U.K. Read interview

Wangari Maathai : The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

Franck Prévot studied writing, business, and education. After he became a father, he rediscovered children’s literature with his children and students. He is the author of several picture books. He loves to tell stories, talk about books, and play with words.

Aurélia Fronty has always drawn. She attended the Duperre School of Applied Arts in Paris and specializes in the creation and design of textiles. Aurélia has illustrated many books for children, including J’ai le droit d’être un enfant, available in English as I Have the Right to Be a Child. She lives in France.

Black Dove, White Raven

Elizabeth Wein’s childhood was shaped by five years spent in England and Jamaica, where her father, an educational psychologist, was engaged in teacher training for the Headstart program in its formative years. Elizabeth never got over this travel bug and has lived abroad for over 20 years, settling in Scotland in 2000 with her husband and two children. She earned a private pilot’s license there in 2003. As a Young Adult author, Elizabeth is best known for Code Name Verity, the story of the friendship between two young women, a pilot and a spy, during World War II; and for Rose Under Fire, set in the notorious women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrück. She also authored The Lion Hunters cycle, set in Arthurian Britain and 6th century Ethiopia. Her CABA winner Black Dove, White Raven, combines her love of flying with her fascination for Ethiopia. Read interview

Who is King? Ten Magical Stories from Africa

Beverley Naidoo was born in South Africa. As a student, Beverley began to question racism and the idea that white people were superior. At 21 she was arrested for taking part in the resistance movement. As a child Beverley always loved stories but only started writing when her own children were growing up. Her first book, Journey to Jo’burg, won The Other Award in Britain. She won the Carnegie Medal with The Other Side of Truth in 2000. She is a five-time CABA winner for Burn My Heart, No Turning Back, Out of BoundsS is for South Africa, and her latest book,  Who is King? Ten Magical Stories from Africa.

Piet Grobler is joint course Leader for Illustration at the Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts, University of Worcester, UK. His teaching covers various fields within illustration, whilst his practice as an illustrator is focused on picture book and editorial illustration. He is the illustrator of 80 books, of which 17 have been translated into languages as diverse as Frisian and Korean. International recognition for his picture book illustration has included a Golden Apple award at the Biennale for Illustration in Bratislava, Slovakia and a Silver Medal in the Japanese Noma Concours competition. His participation in international events related to picture books has included panel discussions or presentations at the book fairs of Berlin, Gothenburg, London and Shanghai and conferences of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) in Spain, South Africa and Mexico. He is a member of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature, IBBY and he and his colleague Tobias Hickey established the  University of Worcester’s International Centre for the Picture Book In Society. Piet’s research interests include post modernist picture book illustration and multiculturalism in picture books and graphic novels. Read interview

Double Trouble

antinuke3Atinuke was born in Nigeria to a Nigerian university lecturer father and an English editor mother. She attended the University of York in the north of England to study English, French and Commonwealth Literatures.  She told her first story on stage, spontaneously at a festival, when the booked performer did not turn up. She absolutely loved it, the audience absolutely loved it!  She started collecting stories and performing them all over the world, focusing on stories from Africa and the African diaspora. In 2005 an illness stopped her from travelling long enough to write the first Anna Hibiscus stories.  There are now several chapter books and picture books about Anna Hibiscus and also books about  No. 1 Car Spotter,  a boy who lives in the countryside and loves cars.

IMG_0967Lauren Tobia is a British illustrator who came to illustration after a long carer as a nurse. She graduated from the university of the west of England’s illustration course and very quickly started illustrating Anna Hibiscus, firstly the illustrated fiction and then the picture books. Although she has never visited West Africa she would love to go and has found illustrating Anna’s world has opened her eyes to West African culture and fostered a love of African textiles. Lauren lives with her husband and two crazy Jack Russell dogs. She lists her hobbies as working on her community garden, drinking tea and procrastinating. You can see more of her work on her website Read interview

Nana and Me

Kathy Knowles was born in Toronto, Canada. In 1989, Kathy and her husband, John, traveled to Accra, Ghana. Soon after she started a weekly reading circle in their garden, which led to the creation of the Osu Children’s Library Fund, a non-profit Canadian organization, and the Osu Library Fund, a registered Ghanaian charity. These organizations have built eight community libraries in Greater Accra. Kathy volunteers from Canada and works in close partnership with Ghanaian librarians, government officials and board members. Her book Akosua’s Gift was a CABA Notable Book in 2012. Read interview

Edmund Opare is one of the most renowned and experienced illustrators in Ghana. He has illustrated numerous picture books including Akosua’s Gift, a CABA Notable Book in 2012. Opare holds a degree in Graphic Design from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.  He has spent his entire life as a full time illustrator. He has worked with notable organisations as a freelance illustrator in Ghana and parts of West Africa. He lives in Accra with his family and enjoys painting with watercolor.

May I Have This Dance?

connieConnie Manse Ngcaba grew up in South Africa in the Eastern Cape, where she became a nurse, community figurehead and a leading voice of dissent against the apartheid regime. Her sense of justice and morality, and her compassion for those around her, brought her into frequent conflict with the government, culminating in her being detained for a year without trial at the age of 57. Her story, completed at age 84, describes her resistance to apartheid as well as the strength of family ties, and the triumph of Connie’s love for her husband and children.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

laurieLaurie Ann Thompson grew up in a small town in rural northern Wisconsin and today lives in Seattle, Washington. She graduated from college with a degree in Applied Mathematics and became a software engineer. She writes for children and young adults to help readers—and herself—make better sense of the world we live in so we can contribute to making it a better place. “I strive to write nonfiction that gives wings to active imaginations and fiction that taps into our universal human truths. I believe that each of us is capable of doing amazing things once we discover our passion, talent, and purpose. Reading is a great place to start!” Read interview

seanSean Qualls is an award winning, Brooklyn-based, children’s book illustrator, artist and author. He has illustrated a number of celebrated books for children, Before John Was a Jazz Giant, for which he received a Coretta Scott King Illustration Honor. Sean also created the art for Dizzy by Jonah Winter. He has created illustrations for magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. His work has been shown in galleries in New York and across the country. Sean draws inspiration from an array of influences such as movies, television, childhood memories, aging and decaying surfaces, architecture, old buildings, nature, folk art, fairy tales, Americana, black memorabilia, outsider art, cave paintings, collectibles, African art, Little Golden Books, vintage advertisement graphics, psychology, mythology, science fiction, music, and literature. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, illustrator/author Selina Alko and their two children Ginger and Isaiah.

One Plastic Bag : Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of The Gambia

miranda-paulMiranda Paul grew up in Wisconsin. She has been an avid recycler since elementary school, when she won a contest by transforming a discarded cereal box into a beautiful holiday ornament. She still loves rummaging for treasures but now spends most of her time teaching and writing books for children. Over the past decade, Miranda has traveled to the Gambia as a volunteer teacher, a fair‐trade and literacy advocate, a freelance journalist—which led her to the subject of her new book, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia. The book has garnered a starred review from School Library Journal and was named a Junior Library Guild selection. Miranda lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with one husband, two kids, ten bookcases, and a hundred new ideas.

Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and grew up in French-speaking Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), West Africa.  Surrounded by the bright, vibrant colors of everyday West African fabrics and tropical vegetation, Elizabeth’s love of color, pattern and stories grew and lingered. After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a B.F.A. in Illustration in 2006. Her first illustrated picture book, My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey, is the winner of a 2012 Gold Moonbeam Award. Her third book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was chosen a 2013 CABA Winner. She now lives in Albany, NY, where she explores a multicultural world through painting, beading, sewing, and collage. Read interview