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 2021

Best Book: Young Children (Ghana / U.S.)

Nana Akua Goes to School
by Tricia Elam Walker, Illustrated by April Harrison

Publication Date: Jun 16, 2020
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9780525581130
Imprint: Schwartz & Wade
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Book Description: 
In this moving story that celebrates cultural diversity, a shy girl brings her West African grandmother—whose face bears traditional tribal markings—to meet her classmates.

It is Grandparents Day at Zura’s elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja’s grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou’s grandmother is a dentist. But Zura’s Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana—or worse, make fun of her—Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura’s classmates feel special, too.

Best Book: New Adults (Zimbabwe)

The Hairdresser of Harare: A Novel (Modern African Writing Series)
by Tendai Huchu

Publication Date: Aug 15, 2015
List Price: $16.95
Format: Paperback, 200 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780821421635
Imprint: Ohio University Press
Publisher: Ohio University Press
Parent Company: Ohio University
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Book Description: 
“Hairdresser was a perfect end of summer read; my book was sticky from sweat and sugary from bubbling peaches that went into the pies and preserves I was making a delicious hair-salon-gossip kind of novel about minding, mending and maintaining social mores. It is a novel about hearbreak, but more seriously, it is also about the inevitable breaks that happen in one’s psyche, sometimes accompanied by injury to the physical body, when one’s community disciplines in order to reinforce its social and sexual expectations.” —Neelika JayawardaneAfrica is a Country
In this delicious and devastating first novel, which The Guardian named one of its ten best contemporary African books, Caine Prize finalist Tendai Huchu (The Maestro, the Magistrate, and the Mathematician) portrays the heart of contemporary Zimbabwean society with humor and grace.

Vimbai is the best hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo’s salon, and she is secure in her status until the handsome, smooth-talking Dumisani shows up one day for work. Despite her resistance, the two become friends, and eventually, Vimbai becomes Dumisani’s landlady. He is as charming as he is deft with the scissors, and Vimbai finds that he means more and more to her. Yet, by novel’s end, the pair’s deepening friendship—used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind—collapses in unexpected brutality.

The novel is an acute portrayal of a rapidly changing Zimbabwe. In addition to Vimbai and Dumisani’s personal development, the book shows us how social concerns shape the lives of everyday people.

Best Book: Older Readers (Nigeria)

Raybearer
by Jordan Ifueko

Publication Date: Aug 18, 2020
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9781419739828
Imprint: Amulet Books
Publisher: Abrams
Parent Company: La Martinière Groupe
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Read a Description of Raybearer


Book Description: 
The instant New York Times bestselling YA fantasy from incredible new talent Jordan Ifueko—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir!

"Nothing like a boss @$$ fantasy with a gorgeous, dark brown girl at the center that highlights—in technicolor and glittering gold—the trifecta of our most basic of human desires: to belong, to be loved, and to walk a path of one’s own choosing." -Nic Stone, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin​

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.


Best Book: Young Children (Nigeria)

Idia of the Benin Kingdom: An Empowering Book for Girls 4 - 8
by Ekiuwa Aire, Illustrated by Alina Shabelnyk

Publication Date: Nov 01, 2020
List Price: $19.99
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9781777117900
Imprint: Our Ancestories
Publisher: Our Ancestories
Parent Company: Our Ancestories
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Book Description: 

sample image from Idia of Benin

“She became a queen, a warrior, the first woman to fight for the kingdom, and the first Iyoba (Queen Mother) of Benin.”

What do you know about African History?
African history spans thousands of years, has been molded by many intelligent artists, scientists, and thinkers, and is bound to fascinate you.

Explore the history of Africa in a way that will be more memorable and enjoyable than what you get from traditional textbooks.

Idia of the Benin Kingdom is an empowering children’s picture book (loved by kids ages 4-12) that takes readers on a beautifully illustrated journey to the 1500s in ancient Africa. Readers are captivated as they watch Idia transform herself from the young and curious daughter of a village warrior to becoming the Queen of the Kingdom of Benin.

Idia was an actual queen who helped rule the ancient kingdom of Benin with her wisdom, charisma, and prowess. Much has been written about her bravery, and artifacts in her image are treasured in museums all over the world.

This book imagines what her childhood may have been like, and shares the story of this well-loved and successful African queen in a way that is relatable to young readers.

sample image from Idia of Benin



Honor Book: Older Readers (Somalia / Kenya)

When Stars Are Scattered
by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

Publication Date: Apr 14, 2020
List Price: $12.99
Format: Paperback, 264 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
ISBN13: 9780525553908
Imprint: Dial Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Book Description: 
Heartbreak and hope exist together in this remarkable graphic novel about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future … but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.

Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.

Honor Book: Young Children (Egypt / U.S.)

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story
by Aya Khalil, Illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan

Publication Date: Feb 18, 2020
List Price: $17.95
Format: Hardcover, 36 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9780884487548
Imprint: Tilbury House Publishers
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Parent Company: Tilbury House Publishers
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Book Description: 

2021 ARAB AMERICAN CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD WINNER

NCSS 2021 Notable Social Studies Book

Kanzi’s family has moved from Egypt to America, and on her first day in a new school, what she wants more than anything is to fit in. Maybe that’s why she forgets to take the kofta sandwich her mother has made for her lunch, but that backfires when Mama shows up at school with the sandwich. Mama wears a hijab and calls her daughter Habibti (dear one). When she leaves, the teasing starts.

That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a “quilt” (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for acceptance in her new one.

This authentic story with beautiful illustrations includes a glossary of Arabic words and a presentation of Arabic letters with their phonetic English equivalents.



Honor Book: Young Children (Senegal)

The Talking Baobab Tree
by Nelda LaTeef, Illustrated by Nelda LaTeef

Publication Date: Jan 01, 2020
List Price: $0.00
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Picture Book
ISBN13: 9789988860387
Imprint: Sub-Saharan Publishers
Publisher: Sub-Saharan Publishers
Parent Company: Sub-Saharan Publishers
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Book Description: 

The Talking Baobab Tree is derived from a story the author heard while visiting a Wolof village in the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal. The story is in keeping with traditional Wolof tales which reveal a deep admiration for getting the better of a stronger, more powerful opponent. Wolof proverbs are blended into the story as are the Wolof words: Oubi (open) and jerry-jef (thank you).

The Wolof people make up forty percent of the population of Senegal and are celebrated for their oral tradition, sense of style, and hospitality. An often repeated saying among the Wolof is “Eat whatever you like but wear clothes that please others.” There are over ten million Wolof speakers, many of whom live in Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania.