“Without the writer, the story would never be born; but without all the thousands of readers around the world, the story would not get to live all the lives it can live.”

Siobhán Parkinson (from her message for International Children’s Book Day 2014)

Last updated 1/8/2014

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

Editor: Mr Jay Heale

Book of the Month

Dinosaurs of Africa


Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan

Illustrated by Luis V Rey
(Struik Nature)

All these dramatic monsters once lived in Africa. More ...

The Latest South African
Children's books

Picture book

HAVE YOU SLURPED STRAWBERRY SOUP? by Nicole Levin, illustrated by Vian Oelofsen (Songololo 2014)

JOJO’S WIRE CAR written & illustrated by Veronica Lamond (Struik Nature 2014)


DOGTECTIVE WILLIAM IN SPACE by Elizabeth Wasserman, illustrated by Chris Venter (Tafelberg 2014)

THE MYSTERY OF AFRICA’S GREAT WHITE LIONS by Claudette Barnes (Kids in Books 2014)

THE RACE by Janet Hurst-Nicholson, illustrated by Vanessa Burger (Just4kix Books 2013)


AFRICAN MYTHS & LEGENDS by Dianne Stewart & Jay Heale (Struik Lifestyle: first combined edition 2001; new design & format 2014)

FAMOUS DINOSAURS OF AFRICA by Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, illustrated by Luis V Rey (Struik Nature: first edition 2008; second edition 2014)

THOBEKA AND SAMUKELO by Reviva Schermbrucker (Duzi Publishers 2014)

MAURO AND ADELAIDE by Reviva Schermbrucker (Duzi Publishers 2014)

MYRTLE AND DANECE by Reviva Schermbrucker (Duzi Publishers 2014)

LEBOHENG AND POLO by Reviva Schermbrucker (Duzi Publishers 2014)

LINDEKA AND VUYENE by Reviva Schermbrucker (Duzi Publishers 2014)

KERO AND BEEBY by Reviva Schermbrucker (Duzi Publishers 2014)

Nalibali    Biblionef


Bookmark     FunDza

Quirky Opinions  Brandy

Don’t sneer at the Checkers imported range: the Frontera Merlot (from Chile) is a little light by SA standards but full of flavour and after-taste.

Locally, the Van Loveren African Java Pinotage is most rewarding. I found it matched the chunky fish soup from Woolies.

Great happenings last month ...

[from left] Sindiwe Magona, Jay Heale and Gcina Mhlophe after a memorable evening of stories and music
Photo: Shannon Flynn

A stupendous entertainment entitled “Listening Beautifully” was held at the Centre for the Book in Cape Town. This fund-raising event (organised by Lesley Beake for the CBN) featured the royalty of South African storytelling: Croc E Moses, the incredible violinist Anene Mhlahlo, Xhosa writer Sindiwe Magona and Zulu storyteller supreme Gcina Mhlophe. Those wishing to donate to CBN activities email


Imaginatively created by Tsemkgao Fanie Cwi & Kerry Jones (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press), a thematic picture dictionary in the Ju’hoan Tsumkwe dialect, Afrikaans and English. It comes with an interactive CD. Something special for anyone with an interest in San life and their communities. Can be viewed at !Khwa ttu reserve (near Yzerfontein) or ordered from


The South African national section of IBBY has been restructured with Genevieve Hart becoming Acting Chair for the next year and specific portfolios for an expanded Executive Committee. They held a well-attended Bridge Drive which was fun and raised over R5000 for the funds. Watch out for more assorted and enjoyable events to follow! Your new contact person is author Dianne Case via


Have you slurped Strawberry Soup? is a delightful picture book by Nicole Levin & Vian Oelofsen which was launched at The Book Lounge with real strawberry soup to sample! (See 2014 reviews)


The life and work of SA Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer who died aged 90. She was a good friend of Nelson Mandela – and also of our IBBY Congress 2004.


News has just reached me that Angus McBride died (in retirement in Ireland) in 2007. One of his dramatic illustrations adorns the cover of the re-issued African Myths & Legends (from Struik) but he is best known for his meticulously detailed pictures of military men from all ages of history in the Osprey “Men at Arms” series.


Great happenings this month ...


Reading, Eating & Drinking my way around the world will be launched at The Book Lounge on Wednesday 6 August, 5.30 for 6 pm. Readings by the author. Space limited. RSVP to essential.


The Biblionef booklet Children’s books in African Languages (edited and researched by Jay Heale) is now available again at the Biblionef office at R90 per book. This is a descriptive list of 220 children’s books available in more than 4 of our 11 official languages, with over 70 available in all 11 languages.


I discovered The Dark Child by Camara Laye in my bookshelf! A classic coming-of-age tale from Guinea. Fascinating to read.


This year is proving an exciting and productive year for local children’s literature. In spite of the unimaginative iron fist of our Education ministers. New books continue to appear, events take place, NGOs press onward. Read the Editorial for further explanations.

South African children’s books received for review by Bookchat –
2010 – 41 fiction, 20 non-fiction = 61
2011 – 43 fiction, 8 non-fiction = 51
2012 – 33 fiction, 16 non-fiction = 49
2013 – 29 fiction, 8 non-fiction = 37           
2014 (so far) – 21 fiction, 8 non-fiction, 2 re-issues = 31


6 August – Launch of Jay’s travel book at The Book Lounge
7 August – AGM of IBBY SA at 4 Central Square, Pinelands
22 to 24 August – Midlands Literary Festival, Howick
10 to 13 September – IBBY Congress in New Mexico.
17 to 21 September – Open Book Festival, Cape Town

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