“Research shows that reading rich narratives and metaphors activates
areas of our brain outside of language, and frequent fiction
reading is correlated with empathy.”

Amir D Aczal, writing in Time magazine

Last updated 3/3/2015

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

Editor: Mr Jay Heale

Book of the Month

Retold by Dianne Stewart
Illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden

Struik Lifestyle

20 stories from folklore around Africa. Retold with style and authenticity. Illustrated with sparkling humour. More ...

The Latest South African
Children's books

Click on the book title to go to its review.

Picture books

OLIVER’S OUTLINE by Alan Glass, illustrated by Sandy Lightley (Pan Macmillan SA 2015)
THANK YOU, JACKSON by Niki and Jude Daly (Jacana Media 2015)


FOLKTALES FROM AFRICA retold by Dianne Stewart, illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden (2nd edition Struik Lifestyle 2015: first published 2006)

Nalibali    Biblionef


Bookmark     FunDza

Quirky Opinions  Brandy

A new eatery on Second Avenue, Harfield Village by Kenilworth station. Graze is fresh and attractive and great for coffee or a light lunch.


Free Book Giveaway

Three copies of Thank you, Jackson by Niki and Jude Daly have been offered by Jacana Media. You could receive a free copy for your school or home library by answering the question below.
From the bestselling author of children’s books, Niki Daly, comes another brilliantly written book. This
warm-hearted story, with spectacular illustrations by world-renowned artist Jude Daly, shows the
importance of courtesy and kindness.
Question: Who created the illustrations for Thank you, Jackson – Niki Daly or Jude Daly?
Email your answer to Make sure you provide your full name, physical address and cell phone number. Three lucky winners will be picked out of the hat at noon on Monday 23 March – and your free copy will be sent to you by courier from Jacana Media.


Protests burned down the local clinic and the library in Mohlakeng township in Randfontein on the West Rand. Now there are plenty of pubs but nowhere to read and no books. So book-loving youths have started their own “underground library” with donated books. Now tell me that South Africa doesn’t like reading!


During last month I attended an excellent IBBY SA panel discussion on teenage books for today’s South Africa, and a workshop of the Children’s Book Network which showed how movement, storytelling and music are all part of our book world.


Left to right: Malusi Ntoyapi, Nal’ibali Programme Support Officer,
Carole Bloch, Nal’ibali Director and Jane Moleleki-Stuurman,
Western Cape Government Director for Arts Culture and Language

Nal’ibali, the reading for enjoyment campaign, was awarded the Best Contribution to Language Development prize at the Western Cape Cultural Affairs Awards. With the help of Times Media, Nal’ibali has donated and delivered over 2 million copies of stories to its network of 300 reading clubs as well as schools and libraries.            

With the help of Gcina Mhlophe, Nal’ibali is making a huge effort to celebrate “World Read-Aloud Day” on 4 March. Last year they read a story to nearly 48,000 children and hope to break that record this year.


When Charles Lutwidge Dodgson took Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boat trip in 1862, he told them a story – which was published in 1865 as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by ‘Lewis Carroll’ with drawings by John Tenniel.

That was 150 years ago. The book was followed (in 1871) by Through the Looking Glass. One hopes that most of our children have been introduced to Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat – and such verses as “The Walrus and the Carpenter” and “Jabberwocky”.

For me, the best moment in the Alice books is this:

"When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."


Bookchat receives many strange books “for review” including (last month) two interesting books with a thoughtful, religious content. So the latest Editorial gives your editor’s impressions on The Face of God by Roger Scrutton and On Heaven and Earth with views from Pope Francis.


This year’s Kids’ Lit Quiz is about to start rolling in South Africa. Seven regional heats will be followed by a national final on 21 February at Roedean School, Johannesburg. The winning team gets an invitation to attend the World Finals in Connecticut, USA. Details from Marj Brown, the national coordinator, at


A crazy day on which groups of book-creators write, illustrate and publish a book in a single day! Target: that every child in South Africa should own 100 books by the age of five.
Join in the next Book Dash. Details from


If you consider yourself fraffly well-read in the South African book world, acquire a copy of The Southern African Impossible Book Quiz Book by Robin Malan. It will drive you to distraction! Most attractively presented, with pictures an’ all. (From Junkets Publisher – who may be forgiven.)


It seems that many of you do appreciate a brief monthly reminder that the next issue of Bookchat is available. New readers and publishers will be welcome on the Reminder list. No charge!  Send an email to 


Wednesday, 4 March – World Read-Aloud Day
Sunday, 8 March – International Women's Day
Friday, 20 March – World Storytelling Day
Saturday, 21 March – World Poetry Day.
Thursday, 2 April – International Children's Book Day
15-21 August – IFLA Conference in Cape Town (your editor has been asked to speak)
35th IBBY Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, 18-21 August 2016

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