“In the home of my childhood, every room in the house could have
been called a bookroom. They lined the dining-room walls,
and overflowed into my mother’s sitting-room, and up into the bedrooms.
It would have been more natural to live without clothes than without books.” 

Eleanor Farjeon, introduction to The Little Bookroom

Last updated 2/12/2014

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

Editor: Mr Jay Heale

Book of the Month

Suzie Joubert
(Art Publishers)

A step-by-step guide for young explorers on a half-day walk around Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. More ...

Nalibali    Biblionef


Bookmark     FunDza

Quirky Opinions  Brandy

Raka Pinotage is new to me and I like it. It’s named after the favourite fishing boat of Paul Dreyer who owns Raka wines. Full strength, South African pinotage with guts, deep taste and long-lasting flavour.
Thinking of furniture? The Furniture Store, 101 Belvedere Rd, Claremont, has just made me a splendid footstool. They stock all sorts of things.

The vexed question of school textbooks lies firmly outside the area of youth literature covered by Bookchat. However, your editor feels strongly that Bookchat readers should be aware of the proposal to supply our educational needs with a single approved textbook for each subject. Details of a petition may be found at:




All these are local publications, suggested for your Christmas present book giving. Full reviews can be found by clicking the title.

NOKO AND THE KOOL KATS written & illustrated by Fiona Moodie (Tafelberg)

A picture story, in the jaunty style of African animal extravaganzas, of a big band group which gets stuck in a “nowhere” of Africa. The locals not only provide help and hospitality but also show they are no mean musicians themselves. Told in prose with bursts of song, the wild party begins. “Bushbaby, shake that calabash-thing!”


THE SPRINGBOKS AND THE REINDEERS by Andrea Florens, illustrated by Katlego Kgabale (Art Publishing)
A Christmas Story from Africa. A big, bold picture book which shamelessly pinches the idea of that hoary Rudolph song and replaces him in Santa’s reindeer team with a dream-filled springbok. Soft-edged, bright colour pictures fill every (large) page.


OOM KALLAS AND THE TORTOISES by Claerwen Howie, illustrated by Meg Jordi (Bumble Books)
Claerwen Howie has much to share with young readers about tortoises, and the whole situation becomes far more exciting and frightening when a fire sweeps through the Cape mountains. Thanks to gallant fire-fighters and water-bearing helicopters, and Oom Kallas’s bravery, many tortoises are rescued. A reality adventure, enriched with Meg Jordi’s colour pictures.


MARIGOLD AND THE FARAWAY TREE by Alison Fast, illustrated by Wendy Paterson (Struik Lifestyle)
The happiest picture book I have met for a long time, jazzed up beautifully by an artist who “loves bright colours and happy pictures and fresh sea air.” Masses of visual details to explore and a story that says Enjoy life and Care for others.




ALIVE AGAIN by Andre Eva Bosch (Tafelberg)
Sanlam Gold Prize for Youth Literature 2013
Set in the township of KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga, where Nandi grows up determined to do well at school and become a lawyer. In spite of a drunken father, she ‘makes good’ especially in debating skills. Most positively written, in contrast to many teenage tales of woe and disaster.


CHAIN REACTION by Adeline Radloff (Tafelberg)
Sanlam Silver Prize for Youth Literature 2013
Stunningly constructed, this teenage novel is about attitude and grasping an opportunity. When you think you’ve finished a story about bullying, you find that the book starts again from the other end, using the same storyline ingredients but with the characters doing slightly different things.



THE BROKEN DESTINY by Carlyle Labuschagne (Fire Quill)
Part futuristic fantasy, part sort-of school story, part high romance – this first part of  “The Broken Trilogy” has already been acclaimed in USA. An intelligent teenager finds herself exiled to the planet Poseidon and very little seems to make sense.


THE ADVENTURES OF BABBA BEAR by Lesley Wainer, illustrated by Dean Simon (Two Pups)
Three simple stories of a favourite bear who gets lost – In a supermarket, in an ice-cream shop, and on board an ocean liner. A happy, friendly, teddy-bear picture book which comes with an adorable small white, fluffy bear.


And as a gift to your adult friends, how about: READING, EATING & DRINKING my way around the world by Jay Heale (Metz Press)
25 light-hearted visits to USA, UK, Japan, Poland, Madagascar and beyond! Travelling, glass in hand.







About 50 schools around South Africa have been taking part in this year’s Phendulani Literary Quiz. This picture shows Yeovil Community School’s winning team out of the 12 competing in the Johannesburg district. (In the centre is author Fiona Snyckers whose book Team Trinity was much enjoyed by contestants; and at right Marj Brown the organiser.) Teachers have stressed the positive effect which this Quiz has had on reading in their schools. 


IFLA Conference in Cape Town, 15-21 August 2015 (your editor has been asked to speak)
35th IBBY Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, 18-21 August 2016
+++ and note that War Horse, based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, featuring those incredible Handspring Puppet creations, is now at Artscape in Cape Town

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