CABA Authors/Illustrators 2022

Best Book for Young Children

Kwame Nkrumah’s Midnight Speech for Independence (Just Us Books) 

Useni Eugene Perkins is a distinguished poet, playwright and youth worker. Perkins founded the Association for the Positive Development of African American Youth in 1991, which he served as president, and became the project director of the Family Life Center at Chicago State University. He still holds these positions at the latter two organizations. February 25, 1999, was proclaimed Useni Eugene Perkins Day in Chicago. He is a married father of three, and lives in Chicago.

Laura Freeman is a children’s book illustrator. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has illustrated many books, and done work for Highlights for Children. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.

Honor Book for Young Children

African Proverbs (Roaring Brook)

Johnnetta Cole is a noted anthropologist and educator, originally from Jacksonville, Florida. She holds a BA in sociology from Oberlin College and master’s and doctorate degrees from Northwestern University. She served a president of both Spelman College and Bennett College. She was the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art from 2009 to 2016. Currently she is chair of the board and president of the National Council of Negro Women.

Nelda LaTeef, a children’s book author and illustrator has won two previous CABA awards,  Animal Village andThe Talking Baobab Tree. She grew up in a US Foreign Service family and spent her childhood attending schools in Tunisia, Afghanistan, Italy, Niger, Nigeria, Lebanon and Senegal. She holds a degree in social anthropology from Harvard University. She lives in Virginia with her family.

Best Book for Older Readers

Home is Not a Country (Make Me a World)

Safia Elhillo is Sudanese by way of Washington, DC. She holds an MFA from the New School and was a founding member of SLAM! at NYU. She is the recipient of a Cave Cannem Fellowship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University , and a Ruth Lily and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. She is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me.

Honor Books for Older Readers

Skin of the Sea  (Random House)

Natasha Bowen is a writer, a teacher, and mother of three. She is of Nigerian and Welsh descent and lives in England where she grew up. Natasha studied English and creative writing at Bath Spa University before moving to East London, where she taught for nearly ten years. Skin of the Sea was inspired by her passion for mermaids and African history.

Sugar Town Queens (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

Malla Nunn was born and raised in Swaziland. After earning a master’s degree in theatre studies, she dabbled in acting in New York City and worked as a cocktail waitress, a nanny, a bookseller, and on film sets. Her first young adult novel, When the Ground is Hard won several awards.


Crossing the Stream (Norton Young Readers)

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is the director of a medical laboratory. She holds an MSc in Clinical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Surrey. “Working in a lab is about running tests and making discoveries,” she says. “Life is like that. You don’t realize who you are until you’re tested.”  She has published seven novels. She is the mother of three adult children and lives in Accra with her husband.


Listen Layla (Penguin)

Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-Australian writer, engineer and award-winning social advocate. She trained as a mechanical engineer and worked on oil and gas rigs around Australia for years before becoming a writer and broadcaster in 2016.  She published her debut memoir, Yassmin’s Story, with Penguin Random House at age 24, and followed up with her first fiction book for younger readers, You Must Be Layla in 2019. Yassmin shares her learnings through keynotes and workshops. She has spoken in over 20 countries on unconscious bias and inclusive leadership. Her TED talk, What does my headscarf mean to you, has been viewed over two million times and was one of TED’s top 10 ideas of 2015.