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Alert! The programme for this year’s @OpenBookFest has been revealed! Click here to see it:

Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

Book Dash Launches Three New Children’s Books on Mandela Day

James Louw and Jesse

The vision of Book Dash is so revolutionary, so boldly audacious, that it is hard to comprehend fully the scope of it upon a first hearing. One can be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the notion of giving (yes, giving!) each South African child a hundred books by the age of five. On Mandela Day last week, this grand dream stepped closer to becoming reality when some 250 children at Jireh early education centre in Mitchell’s Plain each received three books, made by a team of volunteers. For some of the children, these books were the first they have ever owned.

Books by the big-hearted authors involved in Book Dash include:

Killing TimeEmbracing DigitalRide the Tortoise

As jy 'n ster sien verskietSister-SisterThe Whole Food AlmanacAdults OnlyFeast, Famine and Potluck

Arthur AttwellMichelle Matthews and Tarryn-Anne AndersonBehind this project is a formidable trio of radical thinkers: Arthur Attwell, a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and award-winning publishing entrepreneur has an impressive track record as the founder of Paperight, Electric Book Works and Bettercare. He is also a poet and the author of the collection, Killing Time.

Senior manager at Paperight, Tarryn-Anne Anderson, is a talented short story writer who contributed to the Feast, Famine and Potluck anthology and an anthropologist by training. She is the community manager for Book Dash. Michelle Matthews, a publisher and award-winning writer, specialises in sustainability and corporate social investment. She is the managing editor of The CSI Handbook and the author of The Whole Food Almanac. With their feet planted firmly on the ground they envision an outcome with astronomical potential.

They want to see the publishing industry being shaken from its roots and predict that this can happen if the needs of the youngest reader are met as a priority. “This is how the future of publishing in South Africa is not only going to survive, but grow and flourish,” Attwell said.

It is widely believed that a range of interwoven social ills and contemporary crises can be avoided and solved by enhancing the cognitive skills and developing the child’s imagination by ensuring that a vigorous love of reading is instilled before children even get to school. But how can that happen in a society where the all too real constraints of poverty seem so overwhelming?

Book Dash LogoBook Dash’s solution is to make books freely available as downloads so that schools – or anybody who needs a free children’s book – can print them out on a standard photocopier. The cost of the books is reduced substantially to the expense of printing. All the expertise has been donated. No royalties are paid as books are created under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Attwell also believes it is crucial to support fathers in the task of reading to their children. The logo on the back of each book depicts a father in an armchair holding a small child on his lap, reading from an open book.

The big push for this project took place just three weeks before the Mandela Day handout when a team of 40 industry professionals got together bright and early on a cold Saturday morning. Writers and artists brought their previously planned story ideas and sketches, channeling them through the various tools of the trade: tablets and paintbrushes, laptops and scanners.

Team Book DashThe mood in the room was electric, as designers and editors tweaked and touched up the texts, authors consulted other authors, and images took shape, matching the narratives. By the end of the day ten new books existed that would soon be touched and held and loved by the children who hunger for stories. This staggering book-making marathon occurred on 28 June this year at the City of Cape Town’s Central Library, in a collaborative gesture of generosity, care and creativity.

“In essence,” says Attwell, “South African children need more books. However, books are prohibitively expensive for most families in this country, who struggle to put food on the table.” His way around this? Make them available for free! To that end, he wishes to see each child in the country owning 100 books before their sixth birthday. Yes, reader, your eyes do not deceive you. And laugh aloud if you must. But, Book Dash has started making this remarkable dream a reality.

Maya Fowler, Damian Gibbs and Katrin CoetzerAndy Thesen, Liesl Jobson and Jesse BreytenbachRachel Zadok and Sam WilsonNick Mulgrew

“The cheapest books have no publisher – then the only cost is printing. So our participants do the work of publishers in a single day. After that, anyone can get print runs sponsored and put finished books into the hands of children,” says Attwell. Do the sums on that and some 600 million books are required to meet this ambitious goal. India’s Pratham Books and the African Storybook Project offered Attwell a way to refine his thinking and models on which to base Book Dash.

Happy Girl, Saskia!We believe every child should own a hundred books by the age of five. In South Africa, that means giving 600 million free books to children who could never afford to buy them. Every day we lose, more children grow up unable to read and write well, and to enjoy the worlds that books open up.

An integral part of this concept is the concept of ownership. According to Attwell, this means putting books into children’s hands. “Ownership should be sealed by writing the child’s name on the book-plate page. They must be able to collect many of their own books throughout their childhood,” he said.

Jireh children heart Book DashFacilitated by Tarryn-Anne Anderson with Michelle Matthews hosting the event, ten teams each comprising a writer, illustrator and book designer, were plied first with coffee and muffins, then quiches and fruit, and later, wine and pasta. Each trio had a designated work space where the creative collaboration took place on the upper floor of the old drill hall. The intense focus required to produce a book in a day, the sharing of tasks between team member, and the convivial goodwill that spilled regularly into laughter was a profound experience.

The team of workers included Rachel Zadok, Candace di Talamo, Nick Mulgrew, Michele Fry, Amy Uzzell, Jennifer Jacobs, Tracy Lynn Chemaly, Robert McEwan, Sarah-Jane Williams, Paul Kennedy, James Woolley, Louise Gale, Liesl Jobson, Jesse Breytenbach, Andy Thesen, Sam Wilson, Michael Tymbios, Thomas Pepler, Maya Fowler, Katrin Coetzer, Damian Gibbs, Nicola Rijsdijk, Karen Lilje, Sam Scarborough, Kerry Saadien-Raad, Elsabé Milandri, Mathilde de Blois, Vianne Venter, Genevieve Terblanche and Lauren Rycroft.

Kelsey Weins and Tarryn-Anne AndersonThe capable squad of editors who ensured that the texts were suitably age-appropriate comprised Marion Smallbones, Glynis Lloyd and Martha Evans. Videographer, Shaun Swingler, ensured that a visual record of the event took place. Archivist and storyteller, Kelsey Weins, explained the Creative Commons Attribution licence model and took care of the twitter feed on the day. Art director, Pete Bosman, worked with the illustrators and book designers, to advise, facilitate and ensure that the images worked within the specific parameters of the project.

Watch the video made by Shaun Swingler on the day of Book Dash, held at the City of Cape Town Central Library:

YouTube Preview Image

Three titles of the original ten books submitted on Book Dash day were selected for printing and distribution. A Fish and a Gift by Liesl Jobson, Jesse Breytenbach and Andy Thesen; Come Back, Cat! by Karen Lilje, Nicola Rijsdijk and Sam Scarborough was translated into Afrikaans by Maya Fowler as Kom Terug, Kat!; and Sleepy Mr Sloth was created by Paul Kennedy, Nick Mulgrew and Graham Paterson. Anybody may download the source and PDF files for children needing books.

Paul Kennedy, Liesl Jobson, Arthur Attwell, Tarryn-Anne Anderson and Michelle MatthewsAuthors Liesl Jobson and Paul Kennedy assisted the Book Dash trio with the handout at the Educare Centre. On arriving the team was greeted by strains of The Wheels on the Bus and You Are My Sunshine. The children watched with quite some bemusement as box-carrying grownups passed their music ring and then set up stacks of books on tables in the hall. Soon enough the excitement grew as they queued for their books, then received them with their names inscribed. After tea and buns and a farewell song, the day’s programme resumed. Story time will never be the same again.

Despite their phenomenal intellectual capacity, multiple degrees and highly literary pedigree, the team of Attwell, Matthews and Anderson are softly spoken and unassuming face to face. In a focused, pragmatic and determined fashion they are quietly getting on with making a significant difference to the future of the children of South Africa. They are also seeking sponsorship. What better way of honouring the legacy of Nelson Mandela?

Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from both events using the hashtag #BookDash

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Francois Smith resenseer A Sportful Malice deur Michiel Heyns

A Sportful MaliceUitspraak: wortel

Moet jou nie deur die omslag-illustrasie laat mislei nie, dié boek is allermins die donker periodestuk wat die detail van ’n Caravaggio-skildery jou laat veronderstel. Die subtitel is effens weggesteek, maar slaan dáárop ag: A Comedy of Revenge.


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Terri-Maree Rens Reviews Sharp Edges by SA Partridge

Sharp EdgesVerdict: carrot

It has taken me quite a while to get a concise review penned that comes close to conveying my feelings and thoughts on Sharp Edges by local author SA Partridge. Despite this taking months, I am not sure if I am yet able to write a review that is worthy of the message that the book carries across.

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Should Science Fiction and Fantasy be Included in the “New Wave of African Writers”?

Nigerian American Science Fiction author Nnedi Okorafor has expressed “anger” at being left off a recent New York Times list of what it called the “New Wave” of African authors.

AfroSFWho Fears DeathDark Matter

Purple HibiscusHalf of a Yellow Sun Americanah

CrossbonesAll Our NamesWe Need New NamesEvery Day is for the ThiefGhana Must GoDustBoy, Snow, Bird

The article, entitled “New Wave of African Writers With an Internationalist Bent”, mentions Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dinaw Mengestu, Helen Oyeyemi, NoViolet Bulawayo, Teju Cole, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Taiye Selasi, among others, and outlines what are perceived to be the main trends in African and African American writing.

The newspaper quotes Adichie on the subject of different categories of black. “In the US, to be a black person who is not African-American in certain circles is to be seen as quote-unquote, the good black,” Adichie said, adding that people may comment: “You’re African so you don’t have all those issues.”

The article also highlights the new international inclination in African writing, with books beginning to feature more characters who are “citizens of the world”. Manthia Diawara, professor of comparative literature and film at New York University, comments: “Now we are talking about how the West relates to Africa and it frees writers to create their own worlds. They have several identities and they speak several languages.”

According to the article, apart from certain exceptions such as Wole Soyinka and Ben Okri, who broke through in a “fallow period” for African literature, publishing tends to follows trends: “Women, Asian-American, Indian and Latino writers have all been ‘discovered’ and had their moment in the sun”, with African-Americans currently in vogue, and more ‘authentic’ African voices even more preferable.

But for all the different themes and kinds of writing, the novelist Dinaw Mengestu said that he saw a thread. “There’s this investigation of what happens to the dislocated soul,” said Mr Mengestu, 36, the author of All Our Names and a MacArthur “genius” award winner, who was born in Ethiopia but left at age two and grew up in Illinois.

The novelist Okey Ndibe, 54, said for his part, “My reflexes are shaped mostly by life in Nigeria, but so many aspects of me are in the American mode.”

However, it seems the “different themes and kinds of writing” do not stretch to the corner containing the science fiction and fantasy genres.

Writer and publisher Sheree Thomas, who edited Dark Matter, an anthology of African-American science fiction and fantasy that won the World Fantasy Award, was incredulous, and took to Twitter to protest: “I’m trying to figure out how an article on the new wave of African writers does not include Nnedi Okorafor…smh @ the separation of genres”.

Okorafor replied, thanking Thomas, and admitting that she felt “angry” at her omission, but declining to expand too much on the subject:

Do you agree with the New York Times’ summation of current African writing? Do you think genre fiction should be included in a discussion about African fiction? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below.

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Winners of the 2014 Media24 Books Literary Awards and Jan Rabie Rapport Prize Announced

Dominque Botha, Marlene van Niekerk, Etienne van Heerden, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, SA Partridge, Linda Rode, and Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson are the winning authors in this year’s Media24 Books Literary Awards. They were chosen from a shortlist which included three books per category.

ShadowsThe Hidden ThreadKlimtolSharp EdgesIn die land van PamperlangValsrivierKaar

The winners of prizes to the value of R35 000 per category were announced tonight during a glamorous event at the Brundyn Gallery in Cape Town.

The winners:

Recht Malan Prize for the best Afrikaans or English nonfiction:
The Hidden Thread: Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era by Irina Filatova en Apollon Davidson, published by Jonathan Ball

Herman Charles Bosman Prize for the best literary work in English:
Shadows by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, published by Kwela

W.A. Hofmeyr Prize for the best literary work in Afrikaans:
Klimtol by Etienne van Heerden, published by Tafelberg

M.E.R. Prize for the best youth novel:
Sharp Edges by S.A. Partridge, published by Human & Rousseau

M.E.R. Prize for the best illustrated children’s book:
In die land van pamperlang by Linda Rode and illustrated by Johann Strauss, published by Human & Rousseau

Jan Rabie Rapport Prize for the best debut or early (second) work in Afrikaans:
Valsrivier by Dominique Botha, published by Umuzi

Elisabeth Eybers Prize for poetry in Afrikaans or English:
Kaar by Marlene van Niekerk, published by Human & Rousseau

Books that were published by Media24 Books in 2013 were considered for these awards. However, the Jan Rabie Rapport Prize is awared to a debut or early (second) work released by any publisher in South Africa. A total of 98 entries were received and three works were shor listed in each category.
It is the first year that the Elisabeth Eybers Prize for poetry has been awarded. In the past, poetry had to compete with short story collections and dramas for Media24 Books’ W.A. Hofmeyr Prize for fiction.

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We brought you the winners live on Twitter using #Media24LitAwards:

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Keina Swart resenseer Iewers vlieg daar fairy dust deur Marisa Haasbroek

Iewers vlieg daar fairy dustUitspraak: wortel

Jare gelede het ’n kortverhaal in Sarie my opgeval. “Erik se T-hemp” was een van daardie skryfsels wat ’n mens net bybly. Oor die eerlikheid van die storie; omdat dit net so anders was; oor die gemaklike skryfstyl en die mooiheid in die eenvoud van die storie. Dis eers ná die lees van die jeugboek iewers vlieg daar fairy dust dat ek besef het dié besondere kortverhaal destyds was ook uit die pen van Marisa Haasbroek. En dit verbaas my nie, want dié vrou kán maar skryf.


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Mia Oosthuizen resenseer Bloujaar deur Keina Swart

BloujaarUitspraak: wortel

Die eerste jeugroman van die bekroonde skrywer en joernalis Keina Swart, Bloujaar, is die soort boek wat in ’n mens se kop bly hang, met karakters wat by jou vertoef lank nadat jy die boek klaar gelees het.

Met hierdie boek vertel Swart ’n bekende verhaal – wat iets van haar eie lewensverhaal bevat – vars aan haar lesers oor.


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Sunday Read: John Green on Realistic Fiction, Being the King of YA and The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our StarsPaper TownsLooking for AlaskaWill Grayson Will GraysonAn Abundance of Katherines

John Green is the “undisputed king of YA”, with an earnest following known as Nerdfighters. Doree Shafrir caught up with him on the set of The Fault in Our Stars, the film based on his best-selling novel of the same name, to talk about his relationship with fame and fandoms, writing realistic fiction and the translation from page to screen, a process he is closely involved with. He also explains how he came to write the story, which is partly inspired by the life of a young friend who died of cancer.

Explaining why he writes the way he does and what inspires him to be so open about his life, Green is very active on YouTube and Twitter, he says: “We’re super uncomfortable with sincerity as a culture. That ability to experience unironic enthusiasm, that ability to not have to couch your joy or your pain behind all of this protective irony, is something I really admire about people.”

The interview reveals Green’s journey from being a student chaplain in a children’s hospital to becoming one of the most important names in the young adult fiction category:

Every morning, they come: girls in Doc Martens boots and head scarves and bright pink hair, floral backpacks and hooded sweatshirts and Converse. They have figured out where the shoot’s locations are going to be via Twitter and Instagram, and they arrive on set in groups of two or three or more, radiating a sense of uncomplicated teenage girl-ness that is infectious, really — the way they stand off to the side with hopeful smiles on their faces on rainy Amsterdam streets, umbrellas in hand, quiet when shushed by a production assistant, necks craning to catch just a glimpse of their hero. Occasionally there is one, like the Emma Stone doppelgänger in front of the American Hotel on the Leideskade, who can’t contain herself and, upon spotting him, stares and stares until finally she begins inching toward where he is standing by the monitors, under a tarp, and is then shooed back by security.

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Image courtesy of Hypable

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Sarie se jonger lesers, Nina Swart en Cailin Spickett, resenseer Amper Einstein, Die land verby donker en ander jeugboeke

Amper EinsteinDagboek van 'n wimpIn die land verby donkerEendag op 'n reendagGalopRoald Dahl se vreeslike versies

Uitspraak: wortels

Dis vir my soms moeilik om ʼn jeugboek te oordeel, omdat ek nie self kinders het nie en dit regtig baie jare gelede was dat ek self vanuit ‘n jonger perspektief jeugverhale gelees het. Wat dalk vir my na ʼn oulike boek klink, is vir ʼn jongmens van vandag dalk glad nie so boeiend en leesbaar nie. Tye het baie verander en hoe ek groot geword het en die dinge wat my gefassineer het, verskil baie van die omstandighede waaronder die jeug vandag grootword. Hulle staan baie ander uitdagings in die oë en kan dalk ʼn storie oor die stad en dinge wat daar gebeur meer waardeer as die ongekompliseerde koshuisstories wat ek so graag gelees het.


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Marié Heese vereer as gevestigde skrywer; Lindie Koorts aangewys as beste debuutskrywer na Woordfees 2014

VuurklipKaroo-KantateDF Malan en die opkoms van Afrikaner-nasionalismeDF Malan and the Rise of Afrikaner Nationalism

Die ATKV WOORDtroFEES is gisteraand tydens ‘n glansgeleentheid op ‘n wynplaas buite Stellenbosch aangekondig. Hierdie toekennings is gespits daarop om hulde te bring aan diegene wat gesorg het vir hoogtepunte op die program en word deur ‘n onafhanklike paneel beoordelaars bepaal.

Lindie Koorts, outeur van DF Malan en die opkoms van Afrikaner-nasionalisme, het die Woordtrofee vir beste debuutskrywer in ontvangs geneem terwyl Marié Heese aangewys is as die gevestigde gunsteling. Heese het tydens die fees oor haar twee jongste romans, Vuurklip en Karoo-Kantate, gesels.

Baie geluk aan Marié en Lindie!


Die US Woordfees se topproduksies, kunstenaars en skrywers is op Maandag, 14 April 2014 by die vyfde WOORDtroFEES, moontlik gemaak deur die ATKV, aangewys. Die funksie is op die spogplaas L’Avenir buite Stellenbosch gehou.

Mnr. Gerrie Lemmer, hoofbestuurder: ATKV-projekte, het die gaste verwelkom voordat die wenners aangekondig is. Kim Cloete was die seremoniemeester en die bekende Schalk Joubert het musiekvermaak verskaf.

Die wenners is as volg:

WOW-skool: Uitsonderlike bydrae tot die bevordering van Afrikaans

  • Scottsdene Sekondêr in Kraaifontein

Die trofee is deur Gerrie Lemmer aan mnr. Karel Cupido, prinsipaal van Scottsdene Sekondêr, oorhandig.
WOW individuele prys: Die bevordering van Afrikaans in die gemeenskap

  • Sabina Dumas van New Orleans Sekondêr in die Paarl.

Die trofee is deur Fiona van Kerwel, projekbestuurder van die WOW Projek, oorhandig.
Beste kunsuitstalling

  • Magicus in D-Street (Kurator: D-Street Galery – Elizabeth Miller-Vermeulen samewerking)


Amanda Botha, wat vir ’n dekade lank die kurator van die Woordfees se uitstallings was, het die trofee oorhandig. Elizabeth Miller-Vermeulen en Ronnie Donaldson (eienaar van die D-Street Galery) het dit ontvang.

Beste klassieke musiekproduksie

  • Liebrecht Vanbeckevoort

Liebrecht Vanbeckevoort is tans in die buiteland. Rudolf Gouws het die trofee aan dr. Jan Visagie van die Vlaams-Suid-Afrikaanse Kultuurstiging oorhanding, wat dit namens Vanbeckevoort ontvang het.

Beste kontemporêre musiekproduksie

  • Laurika en Orkes

Prof. Dorothea van Zyl het die trofee aan Laurika Rauch oorhandig.

Uitskieter drama

  • Stephanie Gericke vir spel in Melusine van Arcadia

Stephanie Gericke het die toekenning by Elias Nel ontvang.

Beste dramaproduksie

  • Wie’s Bang vir Virginia Woolf

Professor Eugene Cloete het die trofee aan Saartjie Botha oorhandig. Botha, wat die stuk vertaal het, het dit namens die geselskap ontvang.

Woordtrofee vir beste debuutskrywer

  • Lindie Koorts – DF Malan en die opkoms van Afrikaner-Nasionalisme (NB-Uitgewers)

Dr. Lindie Koorts het die trofee by Diana Ferrus ontvang.

Woordtrofee vir ’n gevestigde skrywer

  • Marié Heese – Vuurklip en Karoo-Kantate (NB-Uitgewers)

Ingrid Winterbach het die laaste trofee oorhandig. Marié Heese kon ongelukkig nie die funksie bywoon nie, maar Amanda Botha het dit namens haar ontvang.

Voordat prof. Van Zyl die bedankings gedoen het, is formeel aangekondig dat Basic Bistro die wenner van die 2014 Burger-oorlog is.

Die US Woordfees vind in 2015 van Vrydag 6 tot Sondag 15 Maart op Stellenbosch plaas.



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