2014 Winners

Portia Dery

Portia Dery

from Ghana

Winner of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books

Portia Dery is a writer/blogger, community development worker and social entrepreneur with a focus on writing activities in Ghana. Her love for books dared her to become a writer. She enjoys gardening and meeting people. Her works have been published by the UK poetry library; Artsbeat, Afrika’s first anthology; Ayiba magazine; and the Young Journalists and Writers (YJAW) platform. Portia is the founder of the African Youth Writers Organization (AYWO), which gets children to read and write by grooming them in an incubator program for a specific period of time.

WINNING STORY: Grandma’s List

Everyone has problems but Fatima, an eight year old girl, has the biggest problem in the world - she is tired of been treated as a child. For a long time she had been looking for an opportunity to show everyone, especially her family, that she is smart like any other grownup. One day, Fatima gets the opportunity to be a superwoman and save the day! She runs all the errands for Grandma from grandma’s list of to-do-things and waits eagerly to be praised but things turn out differently and she learns an important lesson.


Mary Ononokpono

Mary Ononokpono

from Nigeria

Winner of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books

Mary Okon Ononokpono is a Nigerian-British writer, artist and illustrator. Born in Calabar, Nigeria, Mary moved to the United Kingdom as a baby and has lived there ever since. Mary has a passion for African arts, culture and history. With a background in design and journalism, Mary has been featured in numerous Pan-African publications. Following a brief return to Nigeria in December 2012, Mary turned her hand towards creative writing.

WINNING STORY: Talulah the Time Traveller

Talulah Taiwo is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Talulah is an inventor that happens to be obsessed with coding. She lives with her Mum (an independent architect) and with her trusty sidekick, Karma, an intelligent jet black cat. Talulah's latest app has been entered into the 'Minds of Tomorrow' science fair, but Mum is unable to take her due to a looming deadline and poor organisation skills. Disappointed at the thought of Mum letting her down again, Talulah decides to take matters into her own hands. She creates a shock inducing time management app to help Mum keep to time. However in her haste, she accidentally enters part of the code incorrectly. Upon testing the app, Talulah finds herself suddenly transported to an ancient Egyptian city. The trouble is, the unexpected power surge has drained the battery on her tablet. Aided by Karma, a gang of cats, and a curious Egyptian boy, Talulah sets about finding a solution to her problem. Will they get the tablet to work so that she can get back home in time for the fair?


Xanele Puren

Xanele Puren

from South Africa

Winner of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators

Xanele Puren grew up on a farm on the outskirts of Mossel Bay, Western Cape, South Africa. Her love for illustration was awakened through the countless number of children's books her mother exposed her too. Xanele went on to study Visual Communication Design at Stellenbosch University, a graphic design and illustration degree. In her final year, the students were encouraged to use "design to make a difference." Xanele channeled her time and energy towards two things she loved: children and illustration. After visiting an Early Learning Centre in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, to research whether there were needs that could be addressed through design, she noted that not many of the centres (hosting children between the ages of 1 and 5) had no access to books. Xanele illustrated and designed three educational, bilingual books, and then took her creative activism a step further. She transformed dull, dreary-looking crèches inside and out by bringing traditional nursery rhymes, animals and imaginary worlds to life through bright paints and brilliant illustrations. After graduating university Xanele established See-Saw-Do, a social enterprise that beautifies child environments through beautiful, bright relevant themed murals. It has since grown into a sustainable business run by Xanele and her husband that now focuses on the holistic improvement of child environments by designing beautiful and functional child environments, mural makeovers, products and accessories. 


Xanele Illustration


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