We have just had our winter break from school and piles of piles of books were read. You should be happy to know this, because that means that loads of book reviews will be published on the blog over the next few weeks.


Lapa Publishers is a South African publisher with loads of books for children, written in the South African context. There is literally a book for everyone in this post, from teen reads to picture books. There is a fabulous selection of English books at Lapa Publishers, and our next book stack post will be a post of our latest Afrikaans Reads from Lapa Uitgewers.


The Witches of Hogsback

by Sally Partridge

This is such a great teen read, this author climbs right into the head space of our teenage heroine. Zelda is a little bit of an antihero, she cannot let a wrongdoing go past without investigating and as a result she is very unpopular at school. Also, she has had a horrible breakup from a boy she realises “now” wasn’t actually the best ever… She manages to manipulate her way onto the school-hiking-club annual adventure to the Hogsback. Hogsback is one of South Africa’s premier adventure spots, a wild mountainous area for exploring, adventuring and the wild outdoors.

Nobody believes Zelda, is there to hike, she hasn’t even take hiking boots… she has no intention of appreciating the great outdoors, she is there to heal her broken heart. BUT, Zelda is actually a girl with a passion for getting to the bottom of a crime, and when a local teen is killed, in a “fall” off a cliff, she is not going to believe the local newspaper when they mention “unfortunate accident.” In just a few days, Zelda manages to get under the skin of the locals, provoke them into revealing shadows of truth… there are twists there are turns… it is a great read. Not a sweet read, if you have a teen into dark crime and creepy stories, then this a really, really good one for them!!!



by Fanie Viljoen

For teen/tween readers that really are more into screens than books… the book really has to pack a punch to draw their attention and this book does. This is an action filled book, picture rich and only 70 pages long, but it has a great message. Shaunlin and Brandon are high school buddies and in their quest to impress a girl they create a video. The video doesn’t quite work out as planned, but they post it anyway… and of course it goes viral, and they become known as the Vidiots.

Next thing the school bully has his grip on them, getting them to create more and more dangerous pranks… the problem is that if they don’t come up with a video they will lose face and if they do they will definitely get hurt. Bullying online, and in real life… this is a very interesting read for teens, and would make a great classroom read.
This book is also available in Afrikaans as “Spring.”


Thabo the Space Dude: Log Book 3: Voyagers in Space

by Lori-Ann Preston

illustrated bu Zinelda McDonald

An easy reader chapter book, picture rich and comic blocks integrated into the book… written as a diary. Each chapter is a day of the week, as we join Thabo on his journey to space. Thabo has been to Mars and before the planet implodes, he is on his way to planet Gliess667Cc. This is a lovely adventure into space, and packed with little facts for young fact lovers. I really enjoyed that the planet they were visiting was a watery one. Part of their training included dive training, the least of their worries were sharks, but slime…. This is book 3 in a series of space adventures… set in space, but clearly not only about space. Feel good stories our adventurers head out into the unexplored wild of outer space… and return to earth safely, apart from a few aliens!!!


Bianca Finds Her Beat

by Bianca Flanders

illustrated by Zinelda McDonald

If you are looking for a sweet and quiet bedtime story… then you have found the WRONG book!!! This is lively, bouncy party in a book. If you click on the QR code inside the book cover, you will be able to hear the rhythm and words read to you. It is a wonderfully joyful book, packed with “doobee doos and shawawas.”

It is a story all about a very energetic little person and her joy at rediscovering her friends on a glorious day… this book is pure delight. Little jumping, bouncing, dancing feet will absolutely love tapping along to this enthusiastic story. This book is also available in Afrikaans.


Kita’s Dance with Dust

by Vanessa Scholtz

illustrated by Marjorie Van Heerden

This book is a triumph, I absolutely love Marjorie Van Heerden’s work… and another book with her stunning illustrations. Kita’s mum tells her to walk at the side of the road… be she likes to walk in the middle of the road, because in the middle of the road she can dance in the dust and create a storm.

All along her mum warns her about the Dust Eater, but Kita is oblivious to her mother’s warnings… until it is too late. But Kita’s mum is not too late and she leaps to the rescue… it is a lovely story of a daughter who gets into a tricky spot and her mum comes to the rescue. Lovely story for mums and their daughters, everywhere.


My first Wild Island Adventure

by Riaan Manser with Murray Williams and Chantal Tarling

illustrations by Martinus Van Tee

A year ago I blogged about My First African Adventure, by Riaan Manser and his team… and he is back with another amazing book for children who love adventures. This is the story of his epic paddle right around the island of Madagascar.

This is a very real adventure, a fantastic book to read to young adventurer’s, packed with bravery and kindness, unbelievable true tales of daring and doing something that no-one has ever done before.

It is one thing to kayak around an island, but when that island is full of amazing creatures and fascinating people to discover, it is quite another. He experienced wildlife encounters of the most unusual kind, Madagascar truly has the most incredible creatures on earth. He was sleeping rough where ever he could land his craft and and find a spot for the night, and this is also how he got to meet the most interesting people: from pirates to onion throwers, from amazing acts of hospitality and locals invested in his journey. And to top it all, he kayaked around the entire island of Madagascar and had to pull one of his own teeth out on the way…

The book is richly illustrated, there is a lot to look at and learn from. Chapters are short, all of them are about a double page spread long… Perfect for reading a chapter a day, to your class at school, to your child at bedtime. Beginner chapter readers will love this, and honestly I read it through in a flash… I was so invested in seeing that he finished his journey. It is more than a great story, it is packed with facts as well. Every couple of pages there is one of twenty five fact pages, presented in easy to read boxes of information: A new word in Malagasy, facts about a local wild animal, fabulous food and how they make it from the island and places to visit and explore if you ever get to visit the island. This a great book, it is great to find a local hero, who is kind to the people he encounters, he respects the environment he explores, and wants to encourage young folk to become adventurous too.


Another great feature of this book is that each short chapter has a QR code, hold your phone over the code and your story will be read to you. Absolutely brilliant for children that battle with reading, they can follow along with the story and not miss any of the details. I love that this book is accessible for all children, whatever their reading level. It is a great read for adventurous kids of all ages. Riaan Manser is indeed the hero of the day and you can find him on his website over here and on instagram here.

This book is also available in Afrikaans.


Amazon Affiliate Links used in this post.

These books were given to us for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa and Lapa Publishers. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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