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Archive for the ‘Childrens Literature’ Category

Soweto Story Hour with drag queen Shenay O’Brien: pics

Capturing the imagination of children and working towards a more just society that recognises and accepts gender fluidity during childhood, the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign recently hosted South Africa’s first drag queen story hour with Thiart Li, performing as Shenay O’Brien, and children from two Nal’ibali reading clubs at Ikageng Austrian Embassy Library in Soweto on Saturday 24 June.

Thiart Li, aka Shenay O’Brien, entertaining whilst educating. During these story hours, children get the opportunity to see adult reading role models defy rigid gender restrictions, and are invited to imagine a world in which all people are truly equal, and accepted for who they are.


A youngster sits on Shenay’s lap with a copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda in her hands. Li read from this beloved children’s book as means to address the locally identified issue of abuse in schools; in the novel Matilda escapes her unbearable environment by teaching herself to read and taking refuge in her school’s library.


The Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign works to spark the potential of all children through reading and storytelling in home languages as well English. Ja-nee, fun certainly was had by all!

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Nal’ibali celebrates diversity with drag queen story hour in Soweto

Thiart Li/Shenay O’Brien

Capturing the imagination of children and working towards a more just society that recognises and accepts gender fluidity during childhood, the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign will be hosting South Africa’s first drag queen story hour with Thiart Li, performing as Shenay O’Brien, and children from two Nal’ibali reading club Ikageng Austrian Embassy Library in Soweto on Saturday 24 June.

The programme is just as it sounds like – an engaging drag queen reading stories to children in a library, and is a response to similar activations which have been taking place in the USA with great success. During these story hours, children get the opportunity to see adult reading role models defy rigid gender restrictions, and are invited to imagine a world in which all people are truly equal, and accepted for who they are.

The Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, which works to spark the potential of all children through reading and storytelling in home languages as well English, supports the initiative which is in line with the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Sustainable Development Goal number five highlights and promotes the need for gender equality, stating that is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.

Further addressing the locally identified issue of abuse in schools, Li will be reading for Roald Dahl’s Matilda which features a young girl who escapes her unbearable environment by teaching herself to read and taking refuge in her school’s library.

Says Righardt le Roux, the Nal’ibali Provincial Support Coordinator responsible for the event: “The story hour ties in with Youth Month and children’s basic rights: The right to play, to education and a safe environment. We hope that through this reading we’ll begin to foster an awareness and inclusive appreciation of all our children by creating safe places of acceptance within community spaces such as libraries and reading clubs.”

Event details:
Venue: Ikageng Library
Address: 8299 Corner of Mahalefele and Khumalo, Orlando West, Soweto
Date: 24 June 2017
Time: 10:30

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access our growing collection of free children’s stories in a range of SA languages plus tips and ideas on how to read with children, visit: or or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter: @NalibaliSA.

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Receive a R500 Takealot book voucher!

Takealot, in collaboration with BooksLive, is currently running a competition in which two lucky readers will win a R500 Takealot book voucher!

Winners will be able to spend their voucher on any of the books found on Takealot’s Book Page.

Takealot’s top ten bestselling books in April were as follows:

1. The Bikini Body 28-Day Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Guide
2. Born a Crime
3. Low Carb is Lekker Two
4. Roald Dahl 15 Book Boxset
5. Manie Muis Skrik Groot
6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 10 Book Set Collection
7. Priddy Write & Wipe 10 book collection
8. Ses Stoute Varkies
9. How to Make Your First Million
10. Low Carb is Lekker

Interested? Visit our Facebook page to enter.

Takealot is not responsible for any harm due to the loss, unauthorised use or unauthorised distribution of a Gift Voucher, after it has been delivered to you. Standard T&Cs apply.

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Call for submissions for 2018 Golden Baobab Prize now open

Golden Baobab is pleased to announce the call for submissions for the 2018 Golden Baobab Prize. The Prize discovers and celebrates African writers and illustrators of children’s stories and confers awards for their work…

The 2018 Golden Baobab Prize offers three awards:

– The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books, for the best story targeting a reader audience of ages 4-8.

– The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books for the best story targeting a reader audience of ages 9-11.

– The Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators for the best artwork that matches illustration briefs provided, intended for children ages 4-11.

Winners of the 2018 Golden Baobab Prize will receive a cash prize of 5,000 USD. In addition to press publicity, winning stories are guaranteed a publishing deal, finalist writers are connected with publishers across Africa and finalist illustrators participate in exhibitions and workshops.

Click here for the submissions guideline

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Stephen Hawking has co-written a book on the universe – for children!

George's Secret Key to the Universe

George’s Secret Key to the Universe teaches children the basics of astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology and other principles that govern our universe. This book makes science interesting while it teaches children fun and interesting facts about astronomical objects. Stephen Hawking, author of the multi-million copy bestselling A Brief History of Time, and his daughter Lucy explain the universe to readers of all ages. George’s parents, who have always been wary of technology, warn him about their new neighbours: Eric is a scientist and his daughter, Annie, seems to be following in his footsteps. But when George befriends them and Cosmos, their super-computer, he finds himself on a wildly fun adventure, while learning about physics, time and the universe. With Cosmos’s help, he can travel to other planets and a black hole. But what would happen if the wrong people got their hands on Cosmos? George, Annie and Eric aren’t about to find out, and what ensues is a funny adventure that clearly explains the mysteries of science. Garry Parsons’ energetic illustrations add humour and interest, and his scientific drawings add clarity.

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2 South African authors win the 2016 Golden Baobab Prizes for African children’s books

2016 Golden Baobab Prize winners and shortlist announced

Alert! Golden Baobab has announced the winners of the 7th edition of the Golden Baobab Prize.

Established in July 2008, the Golden Baobab Prize is often referred to as the “African Newbery Prize”, and is a prestigious award in the African children’s literature industry. Its aim is to support the development of children’s books by African writers and illustrators.

2016 Golden Baobab Prize winners and shortlist announced

The Prize invites entries of unpublished stories and illustrations created by African citizens irrespective of age, race, or country of origin. The Prize is organized by Golden Baobab, a Ghana-based pan-African NGO dedicated to “creating a world filled with wonder and possibilities for children, one African story at a time”.

The organisation’s advisory board includes renowned authors Ama Ata Aidoo and Maya Ajmera.

The Golden Baobab Prize received over 150 stories from 11 African countries this year. Submissions were judged by a jury from diverse backgrounds who brought nearly 100 years of collective experience in children’s literature to the selection of the 2016 winners and finalists.

The winning stories of the 2016 Golden Baobab Prize are:

  • Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books: The Ama-zings! by Lori-Ann Preston (South Africa)
  • Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books: Kita and the Red, Dusty Road by Vennessa Scholtz (South Africa)

The winner of each Golden Baobab Prize receives a cash prize of US$5,000 (about R70,300) and a guaranteed publishing contract.

Those shortlisted were:

2016 Golden Baobab Prize winners and shortlist announced

The Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books

  • Maya and the Finish Line by Ayo Oyeku (Nigeria)
  • Lights and Freedom by Khethiwe Mndawe (South Africa)

The Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books

  • A Dark Night for Wishes by Kai Tuomi (South Africa)
  • Mr Cocka-Rocka-Roo by Lori-Ann Preston (South Africa)

Golden Baobab Executive Director Deborah Ahenkorah Osei-Agyekum said:

For the past seven years, The Golden Baobab Prize has focused on delivering a quality annual literature prize that raises awareness about the need for more African literature for children. Now, the Prize is excited to enter a new phase where we will focus heavily on setting up more publishing partnerships and opportunities for our writers to get more African books into the hands of children. For the first time, this year’s winning stories are guaranteed a publishing contract. The longlist also receives publishing services from Golden Baobab that will connect their stories to leading African and international publishers.

Congratulations to the winners – and those shortlisted.

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Read an excerpt from Lake of Memories – the new book in Bontle Senne’s Afrocentric fantasy adventure series

Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories Cover2Cover Books has shared an excerpt from Bontle Senne’s new book, Shadow Chasers Book 2: Lake of Memories.

The book is the follow-up to Powers of the Knife, and part of the Shadow Chasers series, a contemporary Afrocentric fantasy adventure series.

The book will be launched on Saturday, 26 November at Skoobs Theatre of Books at Montecasino, when Senne will be chatting to Pamela Power.

“I’ve never been one to buy into the ‘Africans don’t want to read’ hype,” Senne said in a recent interview.

“I’m not saying that there isn’t a huge challenge for trade publishers and booksellers in South Africa. There is, of course. But the absence of relevant, engaging, local and accessible literature is something that is improving pretty slowly.”

* * * * *

Read an extract from Chapter 3 of the book:

They knock on the door and hear Gogo’s voice telling them to come in. As they enter the candle-lit room, they see that Gogo is already in bed.

“Zithembe, Nomthandazo,” Gogo says with her eyes closed. “I thought you would come.”

“You did?” Nom blurts out.

“Yes. You see, many years ago I was one of the Bhekizizwe, a Shadow Chaser. Just like you. I know why you are here,” she says. “You want Zithembe’s knife. You want to use it to get into the dreamworld, where the Army of Shadows lives, and rescue his mother. You will need to find her knife to do so. But I cannot help you. The Army of Shadows is too dangerous and powerful now.”

“But they have Mama,” Zithembe blurts out. “I have to rescue her, Gogo. She’s been trapped in the dreamworld for years.”

Gogo’s eyes snap open. She stares at Zithembe, her lips pressed tight, before whispering, “Do you think I haven’t thought about rescuing her? Itumeleng is my daughter! I have prayed every night for her.”

“But the war against the Army is bigger than one person or one Shadow Chaser, even if she is my only child,” Gogo continues. “Itumeleng knows this, and if she was here, she would agree with me: you must stay out of this fight, Zithembe.”

Zithembe goes to this grandmother’s side, kneels besides the bed and takes her hand. “Please, Gogo,” he pleads. “Where is my knife?”

Gog pulls her hand away from Zithembe and rolls over, away from him, to face the wall.

“I am an old woman,” she says. “I have forgotten where the knife is. Now leave me. I want to sleep.”

Zithembe stands and steps back, unsure of what to do next. But Nom walks straight towards Gogo.

“That’s it?” Nom says.

“Nom!” Zithembe says, as if he is warning her – or scolding her. He tries to grab her arm to drag her out of the rondavel, but she pulls away from him.

“No, I don’t care about being respectful. This is a war!” Nom says, folding her arms. “I know you know where the knife is, Gogo. Please, you have to tell us!”

“How dare you! Gogo does not take orders from children,” says a voice from the door.

Zithembe and Nom whip around to see Zithembe’s cousin, Rosy, standing in the doorway with both hands on her hips.

“Gogo is right,” says Rosy as she walks into the room. “This is not a game. The Army of Shadows is dangerous, and you two are too young to be in a war with monsters.”

Nom rolls her eyes. “How old are you?’ she asks. “Thirty-five?”

“I’m fifteen. I’m old enough to take Gogo’s knife as my own. I’m old enough to be a real Shadow Chaser. Twelve is too young – you are too young,” Rosy says, kneeling beside Gogo’s bed. The sleeves of her dress are long, but Nom thinks she sees a flash of an angry yellow scar on Rosy’s arm. “You heard what Gogo said,” Rosy continues. “Get out.”

Nom is about to start a real fight, but Zithembe is faster than her this time. He grabs her arm and drags her out of the rondavel.

“You can’t just – ,” Nom begins to argue, but Zithembe puts a hand over her mouth and a finger to his lips. He points towards the back of the rondavel and pulls Nom with him as he sneaks into the shadows. They crouch in the weeds and nettles underneath an open window. Rosy’s voice drifts to them in an urgent whisper.

“… an evil water spirit that calls itself Mami Wata. Gogo, I believe that the Army has sent Mami Wata to tear apart the village in search of the knife.”

There is a pause before Zithembe’s grandmother says, “I wish I could remember where Zithembe’s knife is. If I could remember, I would hide the knife again, somewhere new, somewhere no one could find it. But for now, you must protect the village. And we must keep Zithembe and Nomthandazo safe until they are old enough to fight.”

“Yes, Gogo,” agrees Rosy.

“Go to the beach and attack just before midnight tonight. Your knife will be the light to guide the way and open the door to send this monster back to the dreamworld. Good luck, ngane yam. Be safe,” says Gogo.

Related stories:

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Grade 2 children illustrate Lauren Beukes’s latest book

MaverickMoxylandZoo City (SA edition)The Shining GirlsBroken Monsters

Lauren Beukes’s next project is two months away: a children’s book featuring “unbelievable beasties”, which will be illustrated with children’s drawings.

Grade 2 pupils at Prestwich Primary School in Cape Town took crayon to paper on Wednesday to create some of the “beasties” for the award-winning author’s new project.

Best known for supernatural thrillers The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters‚ Beukes says this book was largely inspired by her seven-year-old daughter.

Undoubtedly different from what her readers have come to expect‚ the Bostik Book of Unbelievable Beasties competition has allowed the former journalist to express her “cute side”.

Grade 2 children illustrate Lauren Beukes's latest book


Speaking to TMG Digital at a reading and drawing session hosted by the Shine Centre at Prestwich Primary‚ Beukes said that the aim was to just let children read‚ have fun and play.

“Kids’ literacy is so important to me and stories are often the ways in which we understand the world‚ who we are‚ and a way to experience other lives,” she said.

“I wanted these kids to use their imaginations and bring their own experiences to the story. What is so exciting is just seeing the variety of beasties already.”

According to Beukes‚ one of the more challenging aspects of writing the rhymes for the book was making sure that the “beasties” were not too scary – and that’s where her daughter came in.

“I write a lot of very dark novels for adults‚ including Broken Monsters‚ but I have actually worked in kids’ TV for a long time.

“I’ve worked on two different Disney shows and I’ve written a Wonder Woman comic for kids set in South Africa‚ and it’s just a way for me to express my cute side and to do something that my daughter actually appreciates.

“She’s seven years old and she vetted a lot of the rhymes and she was like ‘no‚ mama‚ that’s too scary‚’” Beukes said.

Pravina Vassen‚ who volunteers for the Shine Literacy programme every Monday and Wednesday‚ said that it was a privilege to witness the children’s imagination and talent.

“I think that this is an amazing project and it’s so nice to see these children using their imagination and it’s wonderful to see their talent. I didn’t realise they would draw so well‚” Vassen said.

“These pictures are just stunning.”

Grade 2 children illustrate Lauren Beukes's latest book


Prestwich Primary School principal Mahdi Samodien said that he and many other educators felt that the South African education system still has a long way to go. However‚ he feels that initiatives such as the Shine Programme not only stimulate creativity but also allow children to look at things “in a different light”.

“With regards to our education system‚ many of us feel that we still have far to go. Not only in terms of resources and what education is meant to provide for these children‚ but just the general morale of teachers‚ educators and the system is problematic‚” he said.

“Given the space‚ there is so much that learners can do. There are learners who are not necessarily able to be academically‚ intellectually or mathematically sound‚ but are so artistic and we don’t always nurture that.

“Therefore‚ opportunities like this allow them to listen‚ understand‚ and open their minds‚ this is just really so wonderful‚” he said.

The project is open to children across the country and everyone between the ages of 6 and 12 is invited to let their creativity flow by entering their masterpieces into the competition.

Competition entries close on August 20 and the draw will take place in September. The best “beasties” will be chosen to feature in Beukes’ book‚ which will be published and launched in October.

“I feel ill just thinking about the selection process‚” she said. “Just looking in this room there is so much amazing creativity and when the kids talk about their beasties‚ and they describe what’s happening in their pictures it’s so incredible.

“I have no idea how we are going to judge this. It’s going to be impossible to choose. I might cry‚” Beukes said.

“I really want to do more children’s books‚ this was so much fun‚ I just have to convince my agent.”

Despite it being an awesome excuse for her to not write her novel‚ she said with a wink.

Source: TMG Digital
Author image: Lauren Beukes on Facebook

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Meet the creators of The Girl Without a Sound, Buhle Ngaba’s inspiring tale for girls, at The Book Lounge

Invitation to a dialogue with the team behind The Girl Without a Sound

The Book Lounge invites you to a reading and celebration of The Girl Without a Sound by Buhle Ngaba, a children’s book that defies the norms of fairy tales.

Come and meet the team behind the book – Sarah Koopman (Editor), Neo Baepi (Photographer), Thomaza Mputa (Illustrator) and Ryan Haynes (Designer) – on Tuesday, 13 July, at 5:30 for 6 PM. Be sure to download your free copy prior to the event, or order a hard copy from the author. A message of hope, Ngaba collaborated with KaMatla Productions to get the project off the ground.

The 25-year-old actress, author and activist believes in the healing power of stories. Earlier this year, she told the Mail & Guardian: “I think storytelling is how we keep each other alive and relevant.”

Read the article:

The actress has recently spread her storytelling wings and written The Girl Without a Sound, a children’s book she hopes will empower young black girls in South Africa.

The story is about a voiceless girl in search of a sound of her own and the book aims to be a catalyst for young girls to embrace the power of the voices inside them.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

About the book

The Girl Without A Sound was born out of defiance and as a response to the fairy tales we were told as little girls. Stories about white princesses with blue eyes, flowing locks of hair and an overwhelming awareness of their beauty.

More than that, I want it to be a healing balm for all who read it. For the black female bodies that are dismissed or violated in a white, patriarchal and racist reality.

As an act of restoring power and agency to young black girls in South Africa, I wrote a story about a voiceless girl of colour in search of a sound of her own. For it to be the catalyst that reminds them of the power of the sounds trapped inside them.

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Read an interview with Bontle Senne and read an excerpt from her debut book: Powers of the Knife

Bontle Senne


Powers of the KnifeRead an extract from Bontle Senne’s debut novel Powers of the Knife – Book 1 in the “Shadow Chasers” series, an Afrocentric, contemporary children’s read.

Senne is no stranger to the book world – her work “includes writing and reviewing books, consulting, thinking about digital innovation in publishing, being on the board of three education NGOs and being a minority owner of a feminist publishing house”.

Powers of the Knife is published by Cover2Cover Books and will be launched at Love Books in Melville, Johannesburg, on 14 April.

The book is written for older children, and includes illustrations. It’s homegrown fantasy that kicks off in Jozi and takes its readers to the rural areas to search out family history … all via a magical dreamworld that is stranger than imagination.

Author Sarah Lotz calls it “fast, fun, and a blast to read”.

Senne will be appearing at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and at the Kingsmead Book Fair.

We asked her about the shift from advocacy to writing fantasy adventure for children – what she describes as “no rules, fear is normal, risking everything is what it takes” genre.

Read an extract below.

Why have you chosen to write for this age group?

On my first day working in publishing, as an intern at Modjaji Books, my boss Colleen Higgs said to me, “What we really need are local children’s books. If you want to make a different in local publishing, make children’s books”. At the time, I was young(er) and a little self-important so I rejected the idea immediately: I wanted to make “serious” books. I wanted to write “important” literary novels. But over time I realised that, in a Southern African context, children’s books are the most important books we have. There are few books for this age group that are contemporary, Afrocentric, accessible and just fun.

And why these characters?

I love writing girls that kick-ass so that was a given. Nom had to be different from some of the other girls I was writing at the time and – because I had already decided to name her after my mom – I weirdly thought about what my mom would have been like at that age. Their personalities are pretty similar: action-orientated, fiercely loyal and independent. But Nom needed to have some kind of counter-balance so I wrote a bit of myself into Zee: more analytical and skeptical, more grounded but willing to take as many risks for things that are important to him. I find that they are still growing to be more like themselves, and less like who I initially thought they were, every time I write them.

What is next for the characters in the story? Any sneak highlights to look forward to in the next book?

Dragons! Winter is coming! No, I joke … next is finding Zee’s knife. More monsters, more Shadow Chasers, more of Nom running face-first into danger …

Are you as adventurous as the characters in your book?

I’m not fighting a secret army of monsters or anything but kind of, yes. I have a very risk-taking nature and I get more impulsive as I get older. As long as it doesn’t involve heights or extreme sports, I’m in.

* * * * *

Read an extract from Chapter 9 of Powers of the Knife:

What?” Nom asks.

“Nomthandazo, we don’t have time for this now. Think of a house – quickly!” Itumeleng says.

Nom does what Itumeleng says. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.

Nom tries to think of the kind of house she’s seen on TV. A house surrounded by trees and a high brick wall to protect it. A house made of wood with a big bedroom for her and one for Zithembe.

nullOne that smells like Gogo’s cooking all the time and where she can have chocolate anytime she wants.

“You did it!” says Itumeleng.

Nom opens her eyes to see that the garden has vanished. In its place the house she was just thinking of has appeared.

“Wow,” Nom says, staring in amazement at the house.

Itumeleng pushes her from behind in the direction of the front door. “We have to hurry.”

“OK, OK,” says Nom. “I’m going!”

Itumeleng opens the front door and steps aside so Nom can enter. The smell of Gogo’s cooking is everywhere. Nom heads straight for the pile of chocolate on the table in the TV room.

While she is unwrapping her first chocolate, they hear the sound of something big landing on the roof. The whole house seems to shake.

“What was that?” Nom asks.

“You have your Shadow Chaser’s knife, don’t you? That’s the only way you can enter the dreamworld. It’s also the only way to make wishes in the dreamworld,” Itumeleng replies. “But the monster that trapped me here took away my knife: my wishes don’t come true any more.

“The thing is, the dreamworld can also make your nightmares come true. That’s what is happening now. The Army knows you are here, they can feel your magic. So they sent some of your nightmares here to find you.”

Nom is on the verge of remembering all the bad dreams she’s ever had, but she immediately stops herself. In this world, whatever she thinks of can actually happen. She has to be careful about where she lets her mind go.

Nom puts down her chocolate and takes a deep breath. “What did you say about a monster trapping you here? And what is this Army you were talking about?”

“You have a lot of questions, bathong,” Itumeleng says, smiling. It’s the first time that Nom has seen her smile. She realises that Zithembe has his mother’s smile.

Nom doesn’t say anything but waits to hear Itumeleng speak. What Zithembe’s mother knows is important, and Nom feels they may not have very much time to talk. She can hear what she thinks are monkeys climbing the trees around the house. Nom hates monkeys.

“I am a Shadow Chaser,” Itumeleng says, “which means that I am part of a special group of people who are meant to protect people in the real world from the monsters in the dreamworld. Your aunt was a Shadow Chaser, you are a Shadow Chaser and so is Zithembe.”

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Author image courtesy of Africa 4 Tech

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