2010 Africana Awards for Best Children’s Literature

Best Multicultural Books for Kids

I found this great site called Africa Access, founded in 1989 to help schools, public libraries, and parents improve the quality of their children’s collection on Africa.  Africa Access Review, the online database, contains over 1000 annotations and reviews of children’s books written by university professors, librarians, and teachers most of whom have lived in Africa and have graduate degrees in African Studies.  Their award, Children’s Africana Book Awards, has presented more than forty awards since 1992.  These are the winners for 2010 with reviews by Africa Access.

Best Book for Young Children
Pharaoh’s Boat by David Weizman

With poetic language and striking illustrations, David Weitzman tells the story of how one of the greatest boats of ancient Egypt came to be built and built again. In the shadow of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the most skilled shipwrights in all of Egypt are building an enormous vessel that will transport Cheops, the mighty pharaoh, across the winding waterway and into a new world. But no one could have imagined just where the journey of Pharaoh’s boat would ultimately lead.

As a boy David Weitzman spent countless hours studying hieroglyphs and viewing Egyptian artifacts in museums. He eventually made his way to Egypt where he heard about the Cheops’s funerary boat. Weitzman lives in the mountains of northern California.

Past Winners for Young Children

Best Book for Older Readers
Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book by The Nelson Mandela Foundation

Created by The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Umlando Wezithombe, this graphic novel is, as the title suggests, a visual representation of the life and times of Nelson Mandela also affectionately known by his clan name, Madiba. First released in South Africa as a series of nine separate comics, the international one-book version unfolds in beautifully drawn graphic images accompanied with narrative text.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation was established after Mandela’s retirement on August 19, 1999 and leads the development of a living legacy that captures the vision and values of Mr. Mandela’s life and work. Umlando Wezithombe (History of Pictures) is a comic production company using the visual medium for education, training and entertainment.

Past Winners for Older Readers

Honor Books for Older Readers

Burn My Heart by Beverley Naidoo

This novel by celebrated author Beverley Naidoo tells a serious story of colonialism in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion through the eyes of two boys, Mathew and Mugo; the embodiment of oppressor and oppressed respectively. Mathew is the grandson of British colonialists while Mugo is the grandson of Kikuyu farmers whose land was taken by the British goverment and sold to Mathew’s grandfather at a giveaway price. The book provides important moral lessons that can be applied in situations where stereotypes, injustices and other discriminatory practices thrive.

Beverley Naidoo grew up in South Africa under apartheid. She was detained without trial when she was twenty-one and later went into exile in Britain, where she has since lived. She has two former CABA winners, Out of Bounds (2004 ) and No Turning Back (1998)

Trouble in Timbuktu by Cristina Kessler

Cristina Kessler’s new novel takes place in Mali. Local twins Ayisha and Ahmed know something is not right with an American tourist and his wife. Why are they so interested in the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu? Could they really be plotting to steal one? Well, the manuscripts are more than old manuscripts to Ayisha and Ahmed; they are a rich part of their own heritage. No way are the two teens going to let this happen! They risk everything to stop them, embarking on a desperate quest that takes them across the desert, through a deadly heat, a sweeping sandstorm and finally to the port city of Korioume to confront and trap the wily thieves, and save a treasure of Timbuktu.

Cristina Kessler began writing for children in 1981 when she sold her first manuscript to Highlights for Children. She has lived in Sierra Leone, Niger, Mozambique, Sudan, Ethiopia and Mali. Her personal writing agenda is, “to get the good news out about Africa.”

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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