Best Book for Young Children
Sing to the Moon. Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Sandra Van Doorn (illus.). London, Lantana Publishing / Minneapolis, Lerner (U. S. distributor), 2018.
For one little Ugandan boy, no wish is too big. First he dreams of reaching the stars and then of riding a supernova straight to Mars. But on a rainy day at his grandfather’s house, he is brought down to earth with a bump. Do adventures only happen in galaxies far away or can he find magic a little closer to home?
Honor Books for Young Children
Animal Village. Nelda LaTeef. Accra, Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2018 ( African Books Collective distributor).
Animal Village is a folk tale from the Zarma culture of Niger, West Africa about a tortoise who saves her village from the ravages of drought with wisdom passed down from an “old story.” Nelda LaTeef’s colorful and strikingly brilliant montage of illustrations, in acrylic and collage, captures the richness and vibrancy of the sub-Saharan culture from which the story springs. The story is especially relevant to sub-Saharan Africa as it focuses on the devastation of drought and the importance of received knowledge. With its dual themes of wisdom and grit, the book happily entertains while it teaches the importance of hard work and persistence as keys to success.
Zazi, Ziwelene & Zindzi Mandela and Sean Qualls (illus.), Minneapolis, Lincoln’s Children’s books / Quarto Publishing, 2018.
One day Zazi and Ziwelene, Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchildren, ask their grandmother fifteen questions about Mandela and his life. As their conversation unfolds, they learn that great-grandad was a freedom figher, a President and a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, and that they can carry on his work today.
Mama’s Amazing Cover Cloth.
Ruby Yayra Goka and Edmund Opare (illus). Accra, Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2018 ( African Books Collective distributor).
Do you know that the African woman’s cover cloth has many uses? In this delightful book that young children will enjoy, a little girl shares the many uses of her mother’s amazing cover cloth.
Best Book for Older Readers
Children of Blood and Bone. Tomi Adeyemi. Henry Holt Books For Young Readers, 2018
Zelie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zelie without a mother and her people without hope.
Honor Books for Older Readers
Mirage. Somaiya Daud. New York, Flatiron Books, 2018.
Mirage is a fictional novel that not only draws the reader into its story and prose, but challenges the reader to observe futurism and science fiction in a unique cultural context where it is not commonly used. Readers familiar with Moroccan culture find themselves constantly encountering values and traditions that are clearly Moroccan, while at the same time navigating the author’s magically engaging futuristic kingdom. The names of characters, foods, dress, cultural customs, and even places in the kingdom are obviously drawn from Moroccan culture and Moroccan geography, and yet the author has used these elements abstractly and contextually to envision a fantasy world that is as intriguing as any science fiction novel rooted in a different cultural context. .
Shaka Rising: A Legend of the Warrior Prince. Luke W. Molver (illus.) and Mason O’Conner. Livermor, CA (Catalyst Press) / Story Press Africa, 2018
In a time of bloody conflict and great turmoil, the slave trade expands from the east African coast. Europeans spread inland from the south. And one young boy is destined to change the future of southern Africa. This retelling of the Shaka legend explores the rise to power of a shrewd young prince who must consolidate a new kingdom through warfare, mediation, and political alliances to defend his people against the expanding slave trade.
Best Book for New Adults
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. Trevor Noah. New York, Spiegel & Grau / Penguin Random House, 2016.
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.