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Exclusive Books IBBY SA Awards for Children's Lit Handed Out

Penny Hochfeld, Niky Daly, Chris van Wyk, Maryanne Bester, Mhlobo Jadezweni, Hannah Morris and Shayle BesterAlert! The inaugural “Exclusive BooksIBBY SA Awards” were handed out last week at a lunch function in Johannesburg, recognising the best children’s book writers and illustrators in South Africa.

IBBY is the International Board on Books for Young People – an NPO which represents a world-wide network of those who are committed to bringing books and children together. The Exclusive Books-sponsored award replaces the Vivian Wilkes Award for the best children’s book illustrator, and extends equivalent recognition and prize-money – R5 000 – to both the authors and illustrators of the winning books. This year, no fewer than five were singled out, in the following categories (which may or may not be permanent features of the awards). Here are the categories and judges’ words:

Robin Malan and Daniel RabinowitzA Tale of Whimsy
This is awarded to Fynbos Fairies / Fynbosfeetjies (Umuzi) – a gentle book of poetry by multi-talented Antjie Krog, which is illustrated with beautiful and fine botanical detail by artist Fiona Moodie. Against a backdrop of finely crafted poetry, the book adapts the tradition of “European” fairies into a South African context, beautifully combining fine botanical illustrations of indigenous South African flora, such as strelitzia and proteas, with drawings of fairies representing the diverse cultures of our country.

A Tale of Triumph
Niki Daly is one of South Africa’s most well-loved children’s author-illustrators and Zanzibar Road (Giraffe Books) wins the award for a “Tale of Triumph”. A chapter book about friendship, caring and making the most of what you have, with the usual Daly quirkiness and gentle humour and free flowing illustrations.

A Tale of Growth
This is awarded to Tall Enough – Utshepo Mde (Electric Book Works) by Mhlobo Jadezweni and Hannah Morris, a bilingual book of wonder and fantasy in both English and Xhosa. Sophisticated illustration, beautifully designed text and an enduring message about self-confidence and self-growth makes this a memorable story, redolent of “The Little Prince”.

A Tale of Family Appreciation
Chris van Wyk is a master storyteller and the touching autobiographical story about his “ouma” captures the warmth, love and respect that typified his childhood. Ouma Ruby’s Secret (Giraffe Books) is a true-to-life snippet of South African history, and highlights important family values, as well as appreciation of the many things we take for granted.

A Tale of Individuality
The Cool Nguni (Jacana) by Maryann Bester, illustrated by Shayle Bester, is entertaining, quirky and yes, cool. It conveys a powerful message about cultural differences, diversity and uniqueness, and captures appreciation of one’s individuality through cheerful text and zany illustration. (Note: it’s now also available in Afrikaans, as Die “Cool” Nguni.)

The awards jury comprised:

  • Veronica Behm – Public Libraries
  • Johanna de Beer – Public Libraries
  • Loan Gericke (Chair) – Public Libraries
  • Jill Joubert – Head, Frank Joubert Art Centre
  • Genevieve Hart – Assoc Prof Information Services UWC
  • Jay Heale – IBBY SA
  • Kathy Madlener – IBBY SA Exec, school librarian
  • Robin Malan – IBBY SA Exec Acting Chair
  • Noni Mashologu – IBBY SA Exec, Isiqalo Centre for the Book
  • Marie Philip – retired publisher
  • Marianne Serfontein – EDULIS

Congrats to all the winners!