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. The awards were created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) to encourage the publication and use of accurate, balanced children’s materials about Africa. The awards are presented in two categories: Young Children and Older Readers.

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


7 Books Honored in 2020

Best Book: Older Readers (Ghana)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
by Kwame Mbalia

Publication Date:
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9781368039932
Imprint: Rick Riordan Presents
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Parent Company: Rick Riordan Presents
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Read a Description of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky


Book Description: 
Seventh-grader Tristan Strong tumbles into the MidPass and, with allies John Henry and Brer Rabbit, must entice the god Anansi to come out of hiding and seal the hole Tristan accidentally ripped in the sky.

Best Book: New Adults (Ghana)

Gold of Our Fathers (A Darko Dawson Mystery)
by Kwei Quartey

Publication Date:
List Price: $26.95
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781616956301
Imprint: Soho Crime
Publisher: Soho Crime
Parent Company: Soho Crime
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Read a Description of Gold of Our Fathers (A Darko Dawson Mystery)


Book Description: 

Darko Dawson, Chief Inspector in the Ghana police service, returns in this atmospheric crime series often compared to Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels

Darko Dawson has just been promoted to Chief Inspector in the Ghana Police Service—the promotion even comes with a (rather modest) salary bump. But he doesn’t have long to celebrate, because his new boss is transferring him from Accra, Ghana’s capital, out to remote Obuasi in the Ashanti region, an area now notorious for the illegal exploitation of its gold mines.

Worst of all, when Dawson arrives at the Obuasi headquarters, he finds it in complete disarray. The office is a mess of uncatalogued evidence and cold case files, morale is low, and discipline among officers is lax. On only his second day on the job, the body of a Chinese mine owner is unearthed in his own gold quarry. As Dawson investigates the case, he quickly learns how dangerous it is to pursue justice in this kingdom of illegal gold mines, where the worst offenders have so much money they have no fear of the law.



Best Book: Young Children (South Africa)

Hector: A Boy, a Protest, and the Photograph That Changed Apartheid
by Adrienne Wright, Illustrated by Adrienne Wright

Publication Date:
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9781624146916
Imprint: Page Street Kids
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Parent Company: Page Street Publishing Co.
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Read a Description of Hector: A Boy, a Protest, and the Photograph That Changed Apartheid


Book Description: 

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland comes an illustrated nonfiction collection celebrating dancers of color who have influenced her on and off the stage.

As a young girl living in a motel with her mother and her five siblings, Misty Copeland didn’t have a lot of exposure to ballet or prominent dancers. She was sixteen when she saw a black ballerina on a magazine cover for the first time. The experience emboldened Misty and told her that she wasn’t alone—and her dream wasn’t impossible.

In the years since, Misty has only learned more about the trailblazing women who made her own success possible by pushing back against repression and racism with their talent and tenacity. Misty brings these women’s stories to a new generation of readers and gives them the recognition they deserve.

With an introduction from Misty about the legacy these women have had on dance and on her career itself, this book delves into the lives and careers of women of color who fundamentally changed the landscape of American ballet from the early 20th century to today.



Honor Book: Older Readers (Nigeria)

War Girls
by Tochi Onyebuchi

Publication Date:
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9780451481672
Imprint: Razorbill
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Read a Description of War Girls


Book Description: 
Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria.

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.

And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Acclaimed author, Tochi Onyebuchi, has written an immersive, action-packed, deeply personal novel perfect for fans of Nnedi Okorafor, Marie Lu, and Paolo Bacigalupi.

Honor Book: Young Children (Kenya)

Book Description: 

From Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.

Sample Image from Sulwe Illustrated by Vashti HarrisonFrom Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison (2019, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty.





Honor Book: Young Children (Ivory Coast)

Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family
by Elizabeth Zunon

Publication Date:
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9781681196404
Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Parent Company: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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Read a Description of Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family


Book Description: 

This beautifully illustrated story connects past and present as a girl bakes a chocolate cake with her father and learns about her grandfather harvesting cacao beans in West Africa.

Chocolate is the perfect treat, everywhere!

As a little girl and her father bake her birthday cake together, Daddy tells the story of her Grandpa Cacao, a farmer from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. In a land where elephants roam and the air is hot and damp, Grandpa Cacao worked in his village to harvest cacao, the most important ingredient in chocolate. "Chocolate is a gift to you from Grandpa Cacao," Daddy says. "We can only enjoy chocolate treats thanks to farmers like him." Once the cake is baked, it’s ready to eat, but this isn’t her only birthday present. There’s a special surprise waiting at the front door …



Honor Book: Young Children (West Africa)

Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from West Africa and the Caribbean
by Nathalie Soussana

Publication Date:
List Price: $16.95
Format: Hardcover, 52 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Early Reader
ISBN13: 9782924774533
Imprint: The Secret Mountain
Publisher: La Montagne secrète
Parent Company: La Montagne secrète
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Read a Description of Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from West Africa and the Caribbean


Book Description: 

Winner of the 2020 Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA). Songs about children playing in the schoolyard at recess, sisters braiding each other’s hair at the beach, and parents dancing late into the night mesh together thanks to the music. A wide array of styles—nursery rhymes from Gabon, lullabies from Cape Verde, and rumbas from the Congo—are all performed exquisitely by men, women, and children in more than a dozen languages.

Luminous artwork and homegrown instruments, such as the djembe, the cavaquinho and the Fula flute round off this wonderful celebration of history, language, and culture. Lyrics appear in their original language and translated to English. Also included are extensive notes describing the cultural background of each song, a world map, and a unique code for the digital download of all recordings and a printable file of the book interior.