© 2017 The Literacy Classroom 

Africa

The Village of Round and Square Houses
by Ann Grifalconi

In the remote hills of Cameroon lies the unique village of Tos, unknown and unvisited by most of the world. Here, women live in round houses and men in square houses. Ann Grifalconi's beautiful text and pictures explain how this custom began, through the memories of a young girl growing up in Tos. Richly evocative of village life and customs, the story also illustrates  the importance of the spirit world and storytelling in the life of the villagers

The Day of Ahmed's Secret
by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland

A rich and vividly illustrated picture-book, centred on the life of a young boy living and working in Cairo. Ahmed is known as the 'butagaz boy'. Each day he travels with his donkey and cart across the city, selling gas canisters to many customers. Although the work is heavy, Ahmed is proud to help his family and to be a part of the city he loves - from the thousand-world wall where he eats his lunch, to the 'trucks and donkeys, cars and camels..shouts and calls and whistles and laughter'. The story's ending , when Ahmed finally reveals his secret to his family, is both significant and touching. Not only does the book perfectly conjure up the sounds and sights of the city, it also touches on the universal importance of education, which can be developed further with pupils.

Almaz and the Lion
by  Jane Kurtz , illustrated by Floyd Cooper 

After her mother's death, Almaz and her father wore black clothing and faces like the rain; then one day her father announced that he had found a new wife. Almaz didn't know how to gain her shy new mother's affection until her grandfather set her the task of pulling a hair from a lion's tail. The story sensitively depicts the relationships between young and old, whilst providing insight into Ethiopian society and customs.

The Leopard's Drum
by   Jessica Souhami, edited by John Keller, illustrated by Paul McAlinden 

Osebo the leopard has a fine drum, a huge drum, a "magnificent" drum. All the animals covet Osebo's drum, but he won't let anyone else have it, not even Nyame, the Sky-God. So, Nyame offers a big reward to the animal that brings him the drum. All try - the monkey, the elephant, even the python - and all fail. Can a very small tortoise succeed in outwitting the boastful leopard? Jessica Souhami's vibrant collage illustrations, full of movement and humor, add additional appeal to this delightful story. The short, rhythmic text is perfect for reading aloud.

Grace and Family
by  Mary Hoffman

To Grace, family has always meant her Ma, her Nana and a cat called Paw-Paw, so when Papa invites her to visit him in The Gambia, she dreams of finding the kind of fairy-tale family she has read about in stories. But, as Nana reminds her, families are what you make them.

Handa's Surprise
by Eileen Browne

A modern classic named one of the best culturally diverse picture books in the UK, this is the story of Handa, who's part of the Luo tribe in south-west Kenya. Handa decides to take seven pieces of delicious fruit to her friend, Akeyo, who lives in the neighbouring village. But as Akeyo wonders, I wonder what fruit Akeyo will like best?, a series of sneaky animals steal something from Handa's basket, which she's carrying on her head...When Handa reaches Akeyo, will she have anything left to offer her friend? Richly-illustrated, brimming with luscious fruit and cheeky wild animals, this mouth-watering story is for the youngest of readers.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain
by  Verna Aardema

A traditional Kenyan tale, retold by Verna Aardema as a cumulative nursery rhyme with the rhythm of 'The House that Jack Built'. A wonderful book to read aloud; children will delight in learning the refrains, which tell the story of Ki-Pat, a young cowherd, who ends a terrible drought in his area. The story offers many opportunities for expoloring the effects of weather on people and their environment, as well as encouraging speaking and listening skills.

Masai and I
by  Virginia Kroll, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

A little girl learns about the Masai tribe at school and daydreams about what her life would have been like if she had been born into the tall, proud East African tribe. Comparing her life and theirs, she celebrates both the differences and the similarities and she learns that she has her own spiritual and even physical kinship with them.

The White Giraffe
by  Lauren St John

When she is eleven years old, Martine is orphaned and sent to live with her grandmother on a game reserve in South Africa. Her grandmother seems strangely unwelcoming and Martine has a difficult time settling in at her new school, where she is conspicuously an outsider. But she has an ally in Tendai – one of the keepers on the reserve, from whom she learns the lore and survival techniques of the bush, and in Grace – who instantly senses there is something special about Martine.

There are secrets about Sawubona (the reserve) just waiting to be revealed, and rumours too about a fabled white giraffe – a trophy for hunters everywhere. One night Martine, lonely and feeling slightly rebellious too, looks out of her window and see a young albino giraffe – silver, tinged with cinnamon in the moonlight. This is the beginning of her mysterious and magical adventures – her discovery of her gift of healing and a secret valley that she travels to with the giraffe, where she’ll find clues about her past and future. Above all it’s is a heart-warming story, full of charm and atmosphere, and Martine’s sheer delight in her giraffe friend and the fantastic landscape which is theirs to explore.

Anna Hibiscus
by Atinuke

Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa with her mother, her father, her baby twin brothers, and lots and lots of her family. Join her as she splashes in the sea, prepares for a party, sells oranges, and hopes to see sweet, sweet snow!

The Gorilla Who Wanted to Grow Up
by Jill Tomlinson, illustrated by Paul Howard

Pongo is a young and mischievous gorilla living in the mountains of Africa. He wants to grow up to be brave and clever like his dad, and perhaps even become leader of the pack one day. But it is not until his little sister, Whoopsie, is born that Pongo discovers that growing up isn’t just about having a big chest to thump! Can he prove that he isn’t as young and irresponsible as everyone thinks?

The Butterfly Lion
by Michael Morpurgo

A lyrical and moving tale of a young boy growing up in Africa, and his lifelong friendship with a white lion.

“All my life I’ll think you you, I promise I will. I won’t ever forget you.”

Bertie rescues an orphaned white lion cub from the African veld. They are inseparable until Bertie is sent to boarding school far away in England and the lion is sold to a circus. Bertie swears that one day they will see one another again, but it is the butterfly lion which ensures that their friendship will never be forgotten.

The Fire Children: A West African Folk Tale
retold by Eric Maddern and illustrated by Frané Lessac

The first man and woman are lonely. What to do? They decide to fashion children out of clay. As they are baking the little figures in their fire, they’re constantly interrupted by visits from the sky-god, Nyame. As a result, some of the children are pale and underdone, some are left in so long that they come out very dark, and the rest are every shade between. Frané Lessac’s gorgeous gouache paintings, inspired by West African masks and pottery, and Eric Maddern’s vivid text make this one of the most compelling of creation myths for young readers.

Tales from Africa
by K. P. Kojo

A collection of hugely entertaining stories, drawn from the rich folklore of many countries throughout Africa, and brought sparklingly to life with humour and rhyme by Ghanaian author Nii Ayikwei Parkes, writing under the name used for his children’s work, K. P. Kojo. Find out how selfish Lion gets his comeuppance, go to a Frog wedding in the Sky Kingdom, discover the days when the earth’s creatures were all mixed up and much more in tales which reflect the very best and the very worst of human nature.

The Ugly Five
by Julia Donaldson

Who's that singing on the savannah? It's the top-five ugly animals in Africa! The wildebeest, warthog, vulture, hyena and marabou stork swagger proudly across the savannah, rejoicing in their ugliness - and delighting their babies, who think they're perfect just the way they are. Inspired by the real-life Ugly Five safari animals, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's gorgeous picture book is a jubilant celebration of animals who are often rather unloved. The funny, heart-warming rhyme is a joy to read aloud, while bold, comical illustrations bring the savannah spectacularly to life

Dear Olly
by Michael Morpurgo

Olly’s brother Matt wants to go and work with children who have been made orphans, through war, in Africa. He wants to be a clown and make them laugh. His mother and sister want him to stay in England and go to university.

Hero, a swallow, has a journey to make too. He must fly to Africa for the winter to join all the other swallows. His journey is difficult and fraught with danger.

Three separate stories are woven into one powerful and moving novel whose central theme not only exposes the horrors of war and of landmines, but also the endurance of the human spirit.

A moving story of a brother, a sister and a swallow, and how all are in some way victims of the horrors of landmines.

Journey to Jo'Burg
by Beverley Naidoo

This is the story of love, commitment and the flowering of the human spirit against the background of South Africa's apartheid. Frightened that their baby sister Dineo will die, thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother Tiro run away from their grandmother to Johannesburg to find their mother, who works there as a maid. Their journey illustrates at every turn the grim realities of apartheid - the pass laws, bantustans, racism, the breakdown of family life. The opulence of the white "Madam's" house contrasts starkly with the reality that Naledi and Tiro face - that their baby sister is suffering from starvation, not an incurable disease. This new edition of Beverley Naidoo's classic story includes a special "Why You'll Love This Book" introduction by Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate.

The Akimbo Adventures
by Alexander McCall Smith

Three classic adventure tales from the bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, now together in paperback for the first time.

 

Imagine living in the heart of Africa. Imagine living in a place where the sun rises every morning over blue mountains.

 

Akimbo and his parents live on the edge of an African game reserve. It's his father's task to protect the thousands of amazing animals who make it their home, and wildlife-loving Akimbo dreams of helping him. In these three adventures, Akimbo protects elephants from poachers, saves a lion cub from a trap, and rescues a man from a crocodile!

 

This 3-in-1 collection contains Akimbo and the Elephants, Akimbo and the Lions and Akimbo and the Crocodile Man.

Lila and the Secret of Rain
by David Conway, illustrated by Jude Daly

For months the sun has burned down on Lila's Kenyan village. It is too hot to gather firewood, too hot to weed the garden, even too hot to milk the cow. Without rain the well will run dry and the crops will fail. Lila is so worried that when her grandfather whispers to her the secret of rain, she decides to go and talk to the sky herself. How Lila saves the village by telling the sky the saddest thing she knows is told in David Conway's elegant and spare prose style, which is complemented perfectly by Jude Daly's beautiful and poignant illustrations.

The Hunter
by Paul Geraghty

One day while playing hunters in the hot dry African bush, Jamina finds a baby elephant whimpering besides its dead mother. As Jamina bravely helps the little orphaned elephant, she vows that she will never be a real hunter . . .

Sleep Well, Siba and Saba
by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl, illustrated bySandra van Doorn 

This stunningly illustrated picture book offers a snapshot into life for two sisters growing up in Uganda, with a delightful story that rejoices in the precious details of the sisters' day to day lives as well as with their hopes and dreams for the future. The uplifting story has an almost lullaby-like style and poetic sibilance, ready to captivate readers as they peep inside a fascinating window into another culture.

African Tales: A Barefoot Collection
by Gcina Mhlophe, illustrated by Rachel Griffin

his anthology includes eight traditional tales from all over Africa. Sumptuous hand-sewn collage artwork decorated with African beads adorns these unforgettable tales of bravery, wisdom, wit and heroic deeds.

Meerkat Mail
by Emily Gravett

Sunny the meerkat lives with his enormous family in the Kalahari desert. They are all very close . . . so close, in fact, that one day Sunny decides it's just too crowded and packs his bags. He's off to visit his mongoose cousins. But from the watery world of the Marsh Mongoose to the nocturnal lifestyle of the Malagasy Mongoose, Sunny just doesn't fit in. And who's that shadowy figure who seems to be following him around?

There's so much to enjoy, from the newspaper cuttings on the endpapers to the wittily accurate information about each mongoose species Sunny visits on his journey. With seven giant glossy postcards attached to the pages, this beautiful book is rich with comic detail and will keep any meerkat fan entertained for hours.

Meerkat Mail is a brilliant picture book from Emily Gravett, the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal. It has wonderfully detailed, witty artwork and a giant, glossy postcard flap to lift on every spread. Perfect for meerkat fans!

The Fastest Boy in the World
by Elizabeth Laird 

Eleven-year-old Solomon loves to run! The great athletes of the Ethiopian national team are his heroes and he dreams that one day he will be a gold-medal-winning athlete like them, in spite of his ragged shorts and bare feet.

When his grandfather announces that he's going to take Solomon to Addis Ababa, Solomon cannot believe his ears. A trip to the capital? It's unfathomable. Solomon's joy is increased when he realizes that the Ethiopian running team will be doing a victory parade through the city that day. Maybe he'll get a glimpse of Haile Gebrselassie or Derartu Tulu?!

But Solomon's grandfather has other plans. As Solomon follows him through the big, overwhelming streets, he learns something he cannot believe. The strict old man is a war hero who once risked his life to save a friend and has been in hiding ever since. When grandfather collapses, Solomon knows that getting help from his village is up to him. It's a twenty-mile run from the city to home, and grandfather's life hangs in the balance. Can the small bare-footed runner with the big heart do it?

Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird is the inspiring story of a small Ethiopian runner with a very big heart.

Tales from Africa (Oxford Myths and Legends)
by Kathleen Arnott 

In this book of tales from Africa there are stories about an evil-hearted shark, an extremely cunning hare, a very greedy spider, and the strongest man in the world. There are also answers to such questions as why the crab has no head, why the sun and moon live in the sky, and why flies buzz. Drawn from all parts of Africa, these stories illustrate the fierce sense of justice inherent in African peoples, their powers of patience and endurance, and their supreme ability as story-tellers