“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.

South African Children's Book Awards

The most recent winner(s) of each award is given.

ABSA Early Childhood Development National Award


God’s Plan by Desmond Tutu

Alba Bouwer Prys vir Kinderliteratuur

In die Nimmer-Immer-Bos
by Linde Rode, illustrated by Fiona Moodie (Tafelberg)

ATKV Kinderboek Toekennings


Voorleeskategorie 3-6 : skrywer : Theresa van Baalen for Karla Krullebok
Voorleeskategorie 3-6 : illustreerder : Chris Venter for Karla Krullebol
Selfleeskategorie Graad 1-3 : skrywer : Keina Swart for Hoekom praat grootmense so snaaks?
Selfleeskategorie Graad 1-3 : illustreerder : Maja Sereda for Hoekom praat grootmense so snaaks?
Selfleeskategorie Graad 4-5 : skrywer : Jaco Jacobs for Harlekyn, illustrated by Diek Grobler
Selfleeskategorie Graad 4-5 : illustreerder : Alistair Ackermann for Agent Snoet en die groen genugtig, written by Francois Bloemhof
Selfleeskategorie Graad 6-7 : Fanie Vijoen for Nova: die begin
Selfleeskategorie Graad 8-10 : Nerine Ahlers & Alet Steenkamp for Liefde is …

Bookchat Awards

Commendations issued annually, originally by Bookchat magazine, discontinued in 1997; renewed in 2010.


The “Bookchat” Book of the Year 2010

Just Sisi by Wendy Hartmann, illustrated by Joan Rankin (Human & Rousseau)


The “Bookchat” Book of the Year 2011

Solomon’s Story by Judy Froman (Pan Macmillan)

Bookchat Awards (Fiction)

A Wish This Big by Ingrid Mennen, illustrated by Katrin Coetzer (Tafelberg)

Finding Aunt Joan by Jenny Hatton, illustrated by Joan Rankin (Jacana)

Moving House by Jenny Hatton, illustrated by Joan Rankin (Jacana)

Stepping Solo by Jayne Bauling (Maskew Miller Longman)

The Magic Fish retold by Margie Orford, illustrated by Lizza Littlewort (Jacana)

Bookchat Awards (Non-fiction)

Fact Finder by Helen Lewis, illustrated by Nikki Miles (Metz Press)

Helen Suzman by Gillian Godsell (Maskew Miller Longman: “They Fought for Freedom”)

My First Book of Southern African Ocean Life by Roberta Griffiths, illustrated by Judy Maré (Struik Nature)


The “Bookchat” Book of the Year 2012
Ben and the Whales by Ingrid Mennen, illustrated by Irene Berg (Tafelberg 2012)


The “Bookchat” Books of the Year 2013

Sisi Goes to School and other stories Wendy Hartmann, illustrated by Joan Rankin (Human & Rousseau 2013)

Monday Evening, Thursday Afternoon by Jenny Robson (Tafelberg 2013)

Mister Sengi’s Very Big Friend
by David du Plessis & Charles de Villiers (Struik Nature 2013)
Monday Evening, Thursday Afternoon by Jenny Robson (Tafelberg 2013)
Sharp Edges by S A Partridge (Human & Rousseau 2013)
Sisi Goes to School and other stories Wendy Hartmann, illustrated by Joan Rankin (Human & Rousseau 2013)
Storytime: 10 South African stories for children by various authors (Sunday Times/Nal’ibali 2013)
The Name of the Tree is Bojabi by Dianne Hofmeyr, illustrated by Piet Grobler (Human & Rousseau 2013)

First Fact Finder by Helen Lewis (Metz Press 2013)
Sam, The Toad in the Hole by Lulu & Tee (African Penguin 2013)

Special Awards

Recognition was offered to three people (in alphabetical order) who have, in their different ways, given outstanding support to children’s literature.

Gorry Bowes Taylor
For allocating regular time/space on her “Book Choice” programme on Fine Music Radio for many years.

Lona Gericke
For services particularly to Afrikaans children’s literature; many years on the committee of the SACBF and IBBY SA; and a past reviewer for Bookchat magazine.

Jean Williams
For leading Biblionef for over ten years to the publishing and re-issuing of key South African titles in all eleven official languages of our country. 

Elsabe Steenberg Prys


Willemien en die geel kat by Jaco Jacobs


Amelia de Waal, geskryf deur Wil Huygen : Die lewe en werke van kabouters / Die oproep van die kabouters, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet

Exclusive Books IBBY SA Award

An annual award to the author and illustrator of an outstanding illustrated story book for children published in South Africa.


Niki Daly for The Herd Boy, written & illustrated by Niki Daly (Jacana Media)


Siyolo’s Jersey by Mari Grobler, illustrated by Elizabeth Pulles (Tafelberg)


Linde Rode for In die Immer-Nimmer-Bos / In the Never-Ever Wood, illustrated by Fiona Moodie

Katrine Harries Award

Was awarded biennially for illustration by the SA Institute of Librarianship and Information Science (SAILIS) and discontinued. The CLRU at Unisa has announced that this Award has now been revived to cover the years since 1998.

1999-2001: Dokter Me Di Syn by Piet Grobler
2002-2003: Toepa-Toepa Towery by Piet Grobler
2004-2005: Het Vogeltjies ABC by Piet Grobler
2006-2008: Princes van Afrikavlaktes by Emily Bornhoff

LAPA Jeugromankompetisie


Ek was hier by Nanette van Rooyen

Maskew Miller Longman Literary Awards

Launched in 2007 and calling for entries in all 11 official South African languages.

2010 – Category: Children’s stories

Kat in die pan vir die Fransman by Jelleke Wierenga (Winner)
‘n Bosluis red die kongingshuis by Jelleke Wierenga (Finalist)
Die groenmambas en Shaka se spies by Carina Diedericks-Hugo (Finalist)

Bongani’s Secret by Gail Smith (Winner)
Three Blind Dates by Pamela Newham (Finalist)

Unyanelizwe by Sivuyile Mazantsi (Winner)

Kgethang Nna by Norman Mahlaya (Winner)

Lembe Lerintshwa by Conny Lubisi (Winner) 

2011 Category: Children’s stories

Maya Fowler for Om op eiers te dans

Jayne Bauling for Stepping solo

Ezra Ncebisi Nkohla for Ngenxa Yesithembiso

Herbert Lentsoane for Tshweu ya ditsebe

Sello Mokua for Ke Molato wag a mang?


Awarded annually by Nasionale Pers (now NB Publishers) for the best children’s book published by one of its related publishers. More recently the prize has been split in two: one for an illustrated book and the other for a youth novel.

The bird of heaven: the story of a Swazi sangoma
by Peter Dunseith

Willem Poprok
by Derrick van der Walt 

Vir Jeuglektuur : S A Partridge for Dark Poppy’s demise
Vir Kinderlektuur : Alex D’Angelo for Goblin diaries, illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden

Vir Jeuglektuur : Annelie Ferreira for Tot siens, koning Arthur
Vir Kinderlektuur : Ingrid Mennen for Ben en die walvisse, illustrated by Irene Berg

Percy FitzPatrick Award

Awarded originally by the SA Institute of Librarianship and Information Science (SAILIS) for the best South African children’s book written in English. Discontinued, then revived biennially under the direction of the English Association of South Africa.

Daniel Fox and the Jester’s Legacy by Andy Peterson (Penguin)

Melly, Fatty and me by Edyth Bulbring (Penguin)

SACBF Vivian Wilkes Award

Discontinued. Was awarded annually by the South African Children’s Book Forum to the illustrator of an outstanding children’s book. Sponsorship covered ten such awards. The final ‘Vivi’ was awarded to:

Natalie Hinrichsen for Tell the moon, by Ann Walton (Tafelberg)

SACBF Honours List

For some years the SACBF collected and displayed a Travelling Exhibition of all South African children’s books published during the preceding year. From these titles (as submitted by publishers) an Honours List was chosen and publicised. This practice fell away. To a large extent it has been replaced by the 100 Representative South African Children’s Books exhibition which was initiated (by the SACBF) in the 2004 IBBY Congress and then revived and updated (by IBBY SA) in the 2007 Cape Town Book Fair.

Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature

Sponsored biennially by Sanlam and awarded by Tafelberg Publishers. The original categories of Afrikaans and English have been enlarged to include the Nguni and Sotho language groups.


Afrikaans - gold medal: Annelie Ferreira, Tot siens Koning Arthur (Tafelberg 2012)
silver medal: Derick van der Walt, Hoopvol

English – gold medal: Jayne Bauling: Dreaming of Light (Tafelberg 2012)
silver medal: Neil Malherbe: The Magyar Conspiracy

isiZulu – silver medal: B D Khawula, Yihlathi leli

Setswana – gold medal: Kabelo Duncan Kgatea, Mmudubudu


Willem Poprok by Derick van der Walt (Silver)

Sidekick by Adeline Radloff (Gold)
Agency Blue by Alex Smith (Silver)

Ngiyolibala Ngife by Dumisani Sibiya (Gold)

Ke a hwa, ke a ikepela by Mabonchi Motimele Goodwill (Silver)

Scheepers Prys vir Jeugliteratuur

Pandora se boks
by Nelia Engelbrecht

Willem Poprock by Derick van der Walt

Tienie Holloway-medaljie vir Kleuterliteratuur

Theresa van Baalen for Aspris-krokkedis, illustrated by Joan Rankin 

Not awarded.

IBBY Honour List

All National Sections of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) have the right biennially to nominate books for writing, illustration and translation. South Africa has done so since 1994. The most recent nominations made by IBBY SA are:


Jaco Jacobs: Suurlemoen (LAPA Uit-gewers, Pretoria, 2006)

Mhlobo Jadezweni: UTshepo mde / Tall enough (Electric Book Works, Cape Town, 2006)

K Sello Duiker: The Hidden Star (Umuzi Books Random House, Cape Town, 2006) (posthumously)

Russell H Kaschula:Emthonjeni translated into isiXhosa from his own English Take Me to the River (New Africa Books, Cape Town, 2006)

Anneliese Voigt-Peters: Ouma Ruby’s Secret by Chris van Wyk (Giraffe Books Pan Macmillan, Johannesburg, 2006)


Author: Afrikaans
Derick van der Walt for Lien se lankstaanskoene (Tafelberg)

Authors: English
Dianne Case and Yvonne Hart for Katy of Sky Road (MML)

Translation from English to Afrikaans
Jaco Jacobs for Willemien en die geel kat (from Chris Riddell’s original English Ottoline and the Yellow Cat) (LAPA)

Elizabeth Pulles for Siyolo se trui / Siyolo’s jersey (Tafelberg)


Author: Afrikaans Linda Rode for In die Nimmer-Immer-Bos.

Author: English S A Partridge for Fuse.

Translator: André P Brink for his Afrikaans translation of Die avonture van Alice in Wonderland.

Illustrator: Joan Rankin for Just Sisi.