Tween Reads across Africa

image of girl with black hair and glasses in jean jacket giving thumbs up inside green circle. box underneath reads Miss Mahee's Booklist. light blue background around white.
Booklists for you

Hi friends, I hope you all are having a fabulous April so far! Over here in Auckland, autumn is making her voice heard as the days get shorter and colder. This booklist post is one I curated with the quality of the stories in mind. Each of these titles speak of an issue that is quite current and immediate in the African continent today. To find out more, you’ll need to press the button below…

Gorilla Dawn in yellow writing at bottom of cover. Gill Lewis in white at top. middle image of girl holding ape walking towards large sun on horizon. orange sky above image of eyes and nose of gorilla.
An engaging read

We begin with a tale by an author I’ve featured before. Gill Lewis is known for creating tales with conservation and the plight of animals on our planet. Gorilla Dawn (Oxford University Press, 2015) is one such read that transports the reader deep into the heart of the African jungle. We’re taken to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it’s here that we meet Imara and Bobo who befriend an eastern lowland gorilla held captive along with them at a rebel camp. This gripping read will take you on a mesmerizing journey towards freedom and hopefully awareness. Please make sure you read the back of this as there’s some information that will be useful to everyone!! There will be a few graphic scenes described so please make sure your young tween has some supervision!!

Illegal large white letters across night sky white clouds above dark water small boat in middle with speech bubble above
A captivating graphic read

The next is actually a graphic novel that has touched me deep to the core. I think I’ve already reviewed this in a few other posts before. Illegal (Hodder Children’s Books; 2017) by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano is a story that will leave a powerful impact on you!! The reader will travel along with Ebo from his village in West Africa across the Sahara bound for Tripoli in Libya where he hopes to cross the Mediterranean Sea to join his sister. They say a picture tells a thousand words; but the images created here told me a million more. Eoin Colfer and his team have created a masterpiece in this book. The images are so real and filled with emotion. Every aspect was captured expertly and shown in such a way that children could grasp the horror of it all. Another one here that will need a little supervision folks!! 

cover image of young African girl in yellow dress running barefoot. background red, yellow and orange. large yellow letters at bottom reads Auma's long run.
An interesting read

This next read is a title that’s not actually historical but the topic is still quite important today. In  Auma’s long run by Eucabeth Odhiambo (Carolrhoda Books; 2017), we’re taken to a small Kenyan village where we meet young Auma who dreams of running. A track scholarship could allow her to attend high school and maybe even become a doctor someday. But a strange new sickness called AIDS is ravaging the village, and when her father becomes ill, Auma’s family needs her help at home. In this read, Odhiambo has expertly explained how the disease we know as AIDS spreads (through not only unprotected sex but by sharing needles and unhygienic practices) in a way that young readers could understand. She’s created some excellent characters in Auma and Abeth and woven a really good storyline in this story. This theme, however, is better suited for older readers.

cover image in silhouette. green background while image in blue. image of boy with dog, electricity wires running to a pole. birds flying above. blue letters in green sky reads The Garbage King. green letters on blue at bottom reads Elizabeth Laird.
An engaging read

My last selection is a story I found quite recently. The garbage king by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children’s Books; 2016) takes readers into Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia where they will meet two very different boys. Dani and Mamo should never have met. In Ethiopia’s great capital city they have led different lives. Dani’s home is a grand house – Momo has no home at all. Fate has brought them together, and their only chance of survival is to trust one another. I found this a really well written story with rich descriptions, vibrant language and imagery that transported me to a world I had never known. Readers will find themselves feeling inspired by the courage and strength these two young boys exhibit from beginning to end. 

I hope you manage to find these and see if you agree with my picks. There are many others being published every year that feature the African continent, especially as picture books for younger children. If you find any others for tweens, I’d love to hear from you!

Stay safe and keep reading

Miss Mahee

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