“Children’s literature is a strange phenomenon.
It is something that virtually all of us come across; it involves millions
of pounds changing hands and yet very few adults take it seriously.”

– Michael Rosen

Last updated 1/10/2014

Independent news and reviews from the world of children's books

Editor: Mr Jay Heale

Book of the Month

The Mark


Edyth Bulbring

Illustrated by Julia Anastasopoulos

Teenage science fiction with a punch like a female ninja. More ...

The Latest South African
Children's books

Click on the book title to go to its review.


Karatekas #1: FRIENDS & BETRAYAL by Anzil Kulsen, illustrated by Alinde Lombaard (Struik Children 2014)
Karatekas #2: PLOTTING & SCHEMING by Anzil Kulsen, illustrated by Alinde Lombaard (Struik Children 2014)
THABO, THE COMPUTER, AND THE MOUSE by Letepe Maisela, illustrated by Ilse Steyn & Andy Wood (African Perspectives Publishing 2014)


THE MARK by Edyth Bulbring (Tafelberg 2014)
A new Afrikaans title for primary readers (not reviewed here) from Louis van Niekerk: KLOU VAN DIE NINJA (MonsterMaan #2) from Struik Kinders.

Nalibali    Biblionef


Bookmark     FunDza

Quirky Opinions  Brandy

A knowledgeable friend ticked me off roundly for seeking “good French brandy” when there is so much good South African brandy available. True! I am very fond of Imoya (from KWV) and Oude Meester’s Demant.


At each IBBY Congress, two major awards are presented by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). The two recipients of the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award were the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), initiated by the late Neville Alexander at UCT, and The Children’s Book Bank of Canada.

Director Carole Bloch accepted the award on behalf of PRAESA. This is the third time that a project from South Africa has won this prestigious award: the others were The Little Library (initiated by the Read Organisation) in 1996, and First Words in Print (from the Centre for the Book) in 2004. No other country has won this award three times!
This year the Hans Christian Andersen Awards went to author Nahoko Uehashi (Japan) and to illustrator Roger Mello (Brazil). South African candidates in the past have been authors Lesley Beake and Beverley Naidoo, and illustrators Niki Daly and Piet Grobler. In many countries, just to be nominated for the HCA is a lifetime pinnacle. It is to be hoped that the new invigorated committee of IBBY SA will make fresh nominations soon.


The children gathered in Simon’s Town by the Children’s Book Network thrilled to The Name of the Tree is Bojabi. Storytime magic with a long striped snake and a pair of coconut shells!. And the Name of the Author is … Dianne Hofmeyr.


… in South Africa, by the loss of Richard Parsons – friend, gentleman, philanthropist and generous supporter to the Children’s Book Network.

… through the IBBY world, by the loss of Jürg Schubiger – author, bringer of cheer, 2008 winner of the Hans Christian Andersen author award.


The opening session (at The Book Lounge) featured novelists Philip Hensher, Melissa Siebert, and our much-loved Marguerite Poland with her latest book The Keeper. I sat listening, entranced. Later happenings included picture book artist Satoshi Kitamura. See this month’s Editorial.

I shall always be faithful to South African children’s books, but I have to confess that I have fallen in love with the picture books of Chris HaughtonA Bit Lost / Oh No, George / Shh! We Have a Plan. (all from Walker Books) He uses what seem to be flat, cut-out shapes on a plain background, but what life he breathes into them! In Shh! three figures set out to catch a bird, while the littlest one has other ideas. Suddenly, the blue gloom is flooded with bright coloured birds. Thoughtful, amusing, and sheer works of art.

Among the 14 long-listed entrants (selected from 210 entries) are 4 from South Africa: Jayne Bauling, Bontle Senne, Katherine Graham and Mandy Collins. Other short-listed writers and illustrators are from Ghana (where The Golden Baobab Prize is based), Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Zimbabwe.


Delighted to find another Bookchat – this time in Christchurch, New Zealand. They are a part of the national “Storylines” initiative.

We wish them well!

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