Children’s Africana Book Awards

Bocas LogoThe 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. Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) created CABA in 1991 to encourage the publication and use of accurate, balanced children’s materials about Africa.

The Center for African Studies at Howard University is the institutional base for the Awards.

Also check out The Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA) Festival

10 Books Honored in 2023

Best Book: Older Readers (Ghana)

The Door of No Return
by Kwame Alexander

Publication Date: Sep 27, 2022
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9780316441865
Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Lagardère Group

Read a Description of The Door of No Return

Book Description: 

Dreams are today’s answers for tomorrow’s questions.

11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets…

Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he’s hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.

But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi’s brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight.

You are only fine, until you are not.

The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable–a sudden death–occurs…

The river does not care how grown you are.

As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.

Best Book: Young Children (Kenya)

Lion Lights: My Invention That Made Peace with Lions
by Richard Turere and Shelly Pollock

Publication Date: Aug 02, 2022
List Price: $18.95
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Early Reader
ISBN13: 9780884488859
Imprint: Tilbury House Publishers
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Parent Company: Tilbury House Publishers

Read a Description of Lion Lights: My Invention That Made Peace with Lions

Book Description: 

Winner of the 2023 Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA), which is awarded by The Center for African Studies at Howard University.

Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2022 by the National Science Teaching Association and the Children’s Book Council.

California Eureka Silver Honoree 2022

A story of ingenuity and perseverance.

Richard Turere’s own story: Richard grew up in Kenya as a Maasai boy, herding his family’s cattle, which represented their wealth and livelihood. Richard’s challenge was to protect their cattle from the lions who prowled the night just outside the barrier of acacia branches that surrounded the farm’s boma, or stockade. Though not well-educated, 12-year-old Richard loved tinkering with electronics. Using salvaged components, spending $10, he surrounded the boma with blinking lights, and the system works; it keeps lions away. His invention, Lion Lights, is now used in Africa, Asia, and South America to protect farm animals from predators.

Best Book: Young Children (Ghana and Nigeria)

Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui
by Alison Goldberg, Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Publication Date: Jun 14, 2022
List Price: $20.95
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9781620149669
Imprint: Lee & Low Books
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Parent Company: Lee & Low Books

Read a Description of Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui

Book Description: 

Editor’s Choice Books for Youth, Booklist
Children’s Africana Book Awards, Howard University Center for African Studies winner

The inspiring biography of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui whose handmade sculptures, created from discarded bottle tops, have received international acclaim and been showcased around the world.

"If you touch something, you leave a charge on it and anybody else touching it connects with you, in a way." — El Anatsui

El Anatsui has always written his own story. As an art student at the University of Ghana, El noticed that the artists and styles he was studying were grounded in European traditions. Curious about his own culture’s art history, El observed his people and found stories in the fabrics they wore and the way they used recycled goods. He decided to tell these stories through his artwork.

El experimented with different mediums—firing broken clay into new pots and cutting wood into sculptures using a chainsaw. Each time El tried something new, he brought with him the experience of all the experiments he did before. After coming across a discarded bag of shimmering bottle tops, El wondered What was their story? He experimented with the new material—disassembling, flattening, and reshaping—then stitched the tops together with wire. The result were large, flowing tapestries that tell stories about history, culture, and link people together. Today, El’s bottle top sculptures are showcased all over the world inspiring audiences everywhere.

Here is the captivating story of a Ghanaian sculptor whose passion, creativity, and awe-inspiring artwork reminds us that creating powerful art is about being true to yourself.

Best Book: Older Readers (Nigeria)

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun
by Tọlá Okogwu

Publication Date: Jun 14, 2022
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9781665912617
Imprint: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Parent Company: KKR & Co. Inc.

Read a Description of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun

Book Description: 

Black Panther meets X-Men in this "fast-paced, action-packed, and empowering" (A. F. Steadman, New York Times bestselling author of Skandar and the Unicorn Thief) middle grade adventure about a British Nigerian girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers—perfect for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers, The Marvellers, and Rick Riordan!

Onyeka has a lot of hair—the kind that makes strangers stop in the street and her peers whisper behind her back. At least she has Cheyenne, her best friend, who couldn’t care less what other people think. Still, Onyeka has always felt insecure about her vibrant curls…until the day Cheyenne almost drowns and Onyeka’s hair takes on a life of its own, inexplicably pulling Cheyenne from the water.

At home, Onyeka’s mother tells her the shocking truth: Onyeka’s psychokinetic powers make her a Solari, one of a secret group of people with superpowers unique to Nigeria. Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari are trained. But Onyeka and her new friends at the academy soon have to put their powers to the test as they find themselves embroiled in a momentous battle between truth and lies…

Honor Book: Older Readers (Ghana)

The Kaya Girl
by Mamle Wolo

Publication Date: Jun 28, 2022
List Price: $16.99
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9780316703932
Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Lagardère Group

Read a Description of The Kaya Girl

Book Description: 

This rags-to-riches story by an award-winning Ghanaian author has page-turning appeal with luminous literary resonance.
Writing with effortlessly engaging prose, Wolo showcases the interweaving layers of Ghanaian culture to create a prismatic, multifaceted world in which two young girls, against all odds, are able to find each other.

When Faiza, a Muslim migrant girl from northern Ghana, and Abena, a wealthy doctor’s daughter from the south, meet by chance in Accra’s largest market, where Faiza works as a porter or kaya girl, they strike up an unlikely and powerful friendship that transcends their social inequities and opens up new worlds to them both.

Set against a backdrop of class disparity in Ghana, The Kaya Girl has shades of The Kite Runner in its unlikely friendship, and of Slumdog Millionaire as Faiza’s life takes unlikely turns that propel her thrillingly forward.

As, over the course of the novel, Abena awakens to the world outside her sheltered, privileged life, the novel explores a multitude of awakenings and the opportunities that lie beyond the breaking down of barriers. This is a gorgeously transporting work, offering vivid insight into two strikingly diverse young lives in Ghana.

Honor Book: Older Readers (Nigeria)

Children of the Quicksands
by Efua Traoré

Publication Date: Jul 26, 2022
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Early Reader
ISBN13: 9781338781922
Imprint: Chicken House
Publisher: Chicken House
Parent Company: Chicken House Ltd

Read a Description of Children of the Quicksands

Book Description: 

A richly imagined magical adventure set in West Africa by a prize-winning new voice in children’s writing, Children of the Quicksands introduces readers to Yoruba myths and legends while showcasing the wealth of culture, traditions, adventure, joy, pride, and love found in Nigeria.

In a remote Nigerian village, thirteen-year-old Simi is desperate to uncover a family secret. Ajao is nothing like Lagos — no cells phones, no running water or electricity. Not a single human-made sound can be heard at night, just the noise of birds and animals rustling in the dark forest outside. Her witchlike grandmother dispenses advice and herbal medicine to the village, but she’s tight lipped about their family history. Something must have happened, but what?

Determined to find out, Simi disobeys her grandmother and goes exploring only to find herself sinking in the red quicksand of a forbidden lake and into the strange parallel world that lies beneath. It must have been a dream… right?

Wrong. Something isn’t right. Children are disappearing and it’s up to Simi to discover the truth.

Honor Book: Older Readers (Nigeria)

How You Grow Wings
by Rimma Onoseta

Publication Date: Aug 09, 2022
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9781643751917
Imprint: Algonquin Young Readers
Publisher: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
Parent Company: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

Read a Description of How You Grow Wings

Book Description: 

A Kirkus Prize Finalist
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the year
A SLJ Best Book of the year
A Rise: A Feminist Book Project honoree
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the year
Amazon August Editors’ pick for Best Young Adult

An emotionally riveting novel for fans of Ibi Zoboi and Erika L. Sánchez about two sisters in Nigeria on their journey to break free of an oppressive home.

Sisters Cheta and Zam couldn’t be more different. Cheta, sharp-tongued and stubborn, never shies away from conflict—either at school or at home, where her mother fires abuse at her. Timid Zam escapes most of her mother’s anger, skating under the radar and avoiding her sister whenever possible. In a turn of good fortune, Zam is invited to live with her aunt’s family in the lap of luxury. Jealous, Cheta also leaves home, but to a harder existence that will drive her to terrible decisions. When the sisters are reunited, Zam alone will recognize just how far Cheta has fallen—and Cheta’s fate will rest in Zam’s hands.

Debut author Rimma Onoseta deftly explores classism, colorism, cycles of abuse, how loyalty doesn’t always come attached to love, and the messy truths that sometimes, family is not a source of comfort, and that morality is all shades of grey.

Honorable Mention: Honorable Mention (South Africa)

All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa
by Richard Conyngham

Publication Date: May 17, 2022
List Price: $24.95
Format: Paperback, 220 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781946395634
Imprint: Catalyst Press
Publisher: Catalyst Press
Parent Company: Catalyst Press

Read a Description of All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa

Book Description: 

* A Kirkus Reviews Best YA Book of 2022
* A USBBY 2023 Outstanding International Book
* A 2022 Foreword INDIES Finalist
* Honorable mention, 2023 Children’s Africana Book Awards

All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa revives six true stories of resistance by marginalized South Africans against the country’s colonial government in the years leading up to Apartheid. In six parts―each of which is illustrated by a different South African artist―All Rise shares the long-forgotten struggles of ordinary, working-class women and men who defended the disempowered during a tumultuous period in South African history. From immigrants and miners to tram workers and washerwomen, the everyday people in these stories bore the brunt of oppression and in some cases risked their lives to bring about positive change for future generations.

This graphic anthology breathes new life into a history dominated by icons, and promises to inspire all readers to become everyday activists and allies. The diverse creative team behind All Rise, from an array of races, genders, and backgrounds, is a testament to the multicultural South Africa dreamed of by the heroes in these stories―true stories of grit, compassion, and hope, now being told for the first time in print.

Honorable Mention: Honorable Mention (South Africa)

On My Papa’s Shoulders
by Niki Daly, Illustrated by Niki Daly

Publication Date: May 18, 2022
List Price: $17.95
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9781946395689
Imprint: Catalyst Press
Publisher: Catalyst Press
Parent Company: Catalyst Press

Read a Description of On My Papa’s Shoulders

Book Description: 

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
A 2023 Charlotte Zolotow Award Honor Book
Winner of the 2022 South African Literary Awards Children’s Literature Award
Honorable mention, 2023 Children’s Africana Book AwardsA Cooperative Children’s Book Center 2023 Choices Pick From award winning children’s writer Niki Daly, author and illustrator of the Lolo early reader series

Whether it’s jumping in puddles with Tata in the rain, greeting the neighborhood cat on the quiet back streets with Gogo, or holding hands with Mama while rushing to make the bell, walking to school with family is the best. But nothing is better than walking to school with Papa. From high above, resting on Papa’s shoulders, all of the town is in perfect view, and Papa always says "I love you" when he says goodbye.

A sweet ode to fatherhood and the special relationships children share with each member of their family, On My Papa’s Shoulders reminds us that it’s not about where we’re going, but rather the people who walk with us along the way.

Honorable Mention: Honorable Mention (Nigeria)

Akie & Ebuka Got into Trouble
by Uzoma R. Ezekwudo

Publication Date: Feb 15, 2022
List Price: $24.99
Format: Hardcover, 38 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9781957416014
Imprint: Blossom - Indie
Publisher: Blossom - Indie
Parent Company: Blossom - Indie

Read a Description of Akie & Ebuka Got into Trouble

Book Description: 

While most siblings are rivals, Akie and his little brother are the best of friends. They love singing while flying kites, one big kite for Akie, and one small kite for Ebuka. Akie and Ebuka don’t intend to disobey their parents, but as they follow the trails of an airplane flying low over their house, they do the unthinkable. Ebuka employs lies and tricks to keep their mother in the dark, to buy time, and to help his brother. Will their parents forgive them?

If you’ve never lied, or made mistakes, deliver the first punch!