Meet the 2014 Longlisted Writers for Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books

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Here are the seven longlisted writers for this year's Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books:

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mary-Okon.jpgMary Okon Ononokpono is a British based 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.

Mary says, “I'm delighted to discover that I've been long-listed for this prestigious award! This is the first story Children's story I've written so it comes as a complete shock. My daughter, who happens to be my inspiration for the story is even more delighted than me.”

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?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Jayne.jpgJayne Bauling's Young Adult novels have won the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa, the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Award and the Sanlam Gold Prize for Youth Literature. The most recent, Dreaming of Light, was chosen for the 2014 IBBY Honour List. Her short stories for adults and youth have been published in a number of anthologies. She lives in White River in Mpumalanga, South Africa. 

“As a long-time admirer of Golden Baobab’s commitment to African stories, I’m honoured and thrilled that my story should have made the 2014 long-list for this prestigious award. Congratulations to everyone else on the list and good luck to us all.” Jayne remarked after receiving news she had  been longlisted for the Golden Boabab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

The Saturday Dress - Mavi isn’t too happy about being sent to live with his grandparents in Kabokweni, and discovering that one of his teachers, Ms Mabuza, is their next door neighbour adds to his woes. Things aren’t exactly easy at his new school either, where his only friend seems to be Gcina, but he soon finds himself distracted by a number of mysteries. Matchboxes and money are being hidden in some strange places in his area, and then there’s the child’s dress that hangs on Ms Mabuza’s washing line every Saturday – when there is no child in the house. In trying to solve the matchbox mystery, Mavi makes a mistake which leads to him being misjudged, and he does something terrible in response. How will he ever put things right?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Ricky-Dankwa-Ansong.jpgRicky Dankwa Ansong was born in June, 1990 in the bustling city of Accra, Ghana. Ricky developed a love for reading at an early age but he didn’t think he was good enough to write something worth reading. It was only in his second year of high school in Saint Augustine’s College (Cape Coast) that he ventured to write his first novel “Basic Interest” which he never published. In his third year at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, while studying Business Administration, Ricky decided to share his talent with the world.

“I had to take a walk to calm my racing heart. While I did that, I kept repeating the words: God, I thank you.” That was what Ricky did when he received the news he had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prizes.

Kweku Ananse: The Tale of the Wolf and the Moon - Sakraman, the wolf, is poor and has no friends. He has nothing to harvest from his farm and, thus, suffers the wrath of Kweku Ananse due his inability to pay the cunning spider what he owes him. The Wolf’s bad luck ends when the Moon hears his plea and decides to offer him help. Soon, the Wolf and the Moon become best friends and the wolf becomes very rich. The cunning spider, Kweku Ananse, follows the Wolf around the Kingdom to discover the source of Wolf’s good fortune. When Ananse discovers the truth behind the Wolf’s wealth, his greedy heart hatches a plan to take it all for himself.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Dina.jpgDina Mousa was born in 1984 and grew up in Cairo, Egypt. She graduated from business school majoring in business administration. She started traveling at the age of 24 and moved to South Korea in 2010. She's a wife, animal lover, author, and a traveler.

Dina narrated,  "I was checking my inbox as I do every morning. I saw the email from Golden Baobab, I read it and couldn't believe that I made it to the long list. As I stared at the email my heartbeat got faster and my eyes filled with tears."

The Sunbird and Fatuma - One day a little girl who lives with her loving father in the woods discovers a magical forest. A friendship begins between the little girl, Fatuma, and the Sunbird. When Fatuma finds out the painful truth about her father, how will she protect her friend?

b2ap3_thumbnail_Hillary.jpgHillary Namunyu  is a publishing editor in Nairobi, Kenya. He is also a reading ambassador with Start-A-Library, an organisation that promotes installation and stocking of libraries with creative books as well as championing reading in primary schools. He occasionally contributes literary commentaries to The Saturday Nation.  

"Wow! Unbelievable! ...I now believe in that saying, that there is a sense of greatness in every person." Hillary exclaimed when he received the news he had been longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

Teddy Mapesa and the Missing Cash - Teddy is about 12 years old, lives in Nairobi with his parents and goes to a city council school. Like many children, he has a group of friends from different cultures. Some are mischievous, others terribly honest; Teddy is their consciousness. Amidst the challenges of growing up in the city, the desire to perform well in school and appease his parents whilst keeping the company of his friends, he finds himself in the thick of things when his classmate and best friend Muthoni is caught in a tragedy in the hustle and bustle of Nairobi life

b2ap3_thumbnail_Mamle-Wolo.jpgMamle Wolo is a writer of Ghanaian and German parentage, was born in Ghana and educated in both Ghana and the United Kingdom, graduating from the University of Cambridge. She is currently resident in Ghana and works as a consultant in social development issues. In 2011, she won the Burt Award for African Literature in Ghana with her young adult novel ‘The Kaya-Girl.’ She is a co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana and a mother of two.

 "Great news!" Mamle exclaimed when she received the news of  her story being longlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Book.

Flying through Water  is the story of a boy who escapes from bonded labour in the fishing industry into a great adventure on the Volta Lake. Inspired by his grandfather’s stories, he has learned that his family’s history is bound up with the creation of the lake and the dam. His own adventure reunites and brings back to life the different strands of this history, including the legend of the mysterious creature of the lake, ‘Maame Water.’ This is a story of adventure and of triumph over adversity that is firmly grounded in both historical and present-day realities of Ghana.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Bontle_20140917-123900_1.jpgBontle Senne  is a writer, blogger, speaker and literary activist on the board of two education NGOs: Puku Children's Literature Foundation and READ Educational Trust. She is a minority shareholder of publishing house Modjaji Books. In addition to writing for children, Bontle regularly speaks children's literature at international literary festivals and conferences .She wrote her first story at 6 years old: it was about a brother and a sister rabbit who were naughty and wanted to stay up late.

"I am incredibly honored to be on the Golden Baobab longlist. It is certainly the most exciting moment of my life as a writer." Bontle says.

The Monster at Midnight - Phila is stuck in her grandmother's small village for the school holiday. Between bossy big sister Thando and irritating little brother Musa, she's not having a very good holiday. On top of that, there are strange things going on in the village after dark. Things for Phila only get worse when she discovers that there's a monster after her - and he's coming at midnight.