Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 3, 2021

Book Giveway: WANDA by Sihle Nontsokweni & Mathabo Tlali

Sihle and Mathabo have written a picture book, titled, WANDA, illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne and published by Crocodile Books – Interlink Publishing. They have agreed to send a copy of the book to one lucky winner. 

All you have to do is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Sihle and Mathabo.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


An empowering picture book from South Africa about a young girl who overcomes endless teasing

Meet Wanda, with her beautiful head full of hair. She is brave and strong, but she’s unhappy because of the endless teasing by the boys at school for her “thorn bush” and “thunderstorm cloud.” Through Grandma Makhulu’s hair secrets and stories she finds the courage to face her fears and learn to appreciate that her hair is a crown‚ “not a burden‚” and it is something to be proud of. This book is about identity and beauty, celebrating how cultural pride is learned and passed on over generations.


In 2015, I was living in the eclectic and smoggy city of Beijing, pursuing a Master’s degree at Peking University. I’d submitted an acting tape, casting for a role and had submitted a headshot picture of myself where I was wearing a black, bouncy weave. After the audition, I had removed the curly weave and naturally returned to my small, budding dreadlocks. The show called me back and I was immediately nerved, because I had changed my hairstyle. In conversation with my friend, I unconsciously, yet verbatim say: “I just don’t think they’ll think I’m as beautiful with my natural hair.”

Somewhere in my journey, I had internalised that hair like mine was not appropriate, and that with it on, I was less beautiful. It reminded me of these words:

“there are places like this everywhere,
places you enter as a young girl
from which you never return.”

Later on, that year, two friends and I were researching the weave hair market in Guangzhou in relation to African markets.

Reflecting on the hair market, and how we Africans were the largest consumers and importers of wigs and weaves led me to reflect on the messaging on hair as an identity marker. I then wrote this blog African Rapunzel blog. This initial transcript on hair, became the first draft from where I developed the storyline on Wanda. As I developed the story, I reached out to my long-time friend Mathabo Tlali, to see how we could jostle ideas to bring this story to its fullness. I sent the story to Mathabo who laced the story with creative magic undergirding the story with key elements of intergenerational transmission of confidence and other key themes like the big switch. We spent months looking for an illustrator alongside Jacana Media. We put a great deal of energy co-creating with Chantelle and Burgen on the representativeness of the characters so that the book could capture a diverse range of young girls.

Our friendship had been solidified through the creative arts studying in high school together, then we used to dream of having our own theatre and a scholarship for children in the arts. Through the years we stayed connected and shared our creative passions. Collaborating on the book was a natural extension of those long-shared childhood hopes of being on stage, telling stories.


When we read the story, we just knew this was an important book! Sihle and Mathabo had crafted a story around several central issues of our time: being bullied, finding one’s own identity and being proud of one’s cultural history and traditions. Being part of the multicultural society that is South Africa, this was a message that spoke to our hearts and we were honored to be asked to illustrate this special story.

With a long history in literacy and education, we pay great attention in adding our ‘visual voices’ to the stories we illustrate, and so, drawing from our own experiences and childhood feelings, we added in our own (pictorial) notes. You will see (in the pages we’ve selected) the heckling bullies that make Wanda’s life a misery – take a close look at these two! While they criticize Wanda, are they so perfect? Perhaps Wanda might find fault with them in return, but she doesn’t – she finds fault with herself, not with those around her. Perhaps the parent reading the story might see how imperfect the bullies are and point that out. Perhaps that parent might also point out that Wanda held fast and did not retaliate with inappropriate behavior. We hope so!

Thank you so much Kathy for having us back on your blog to talk about ‘Wanda’ – freshly launched in the USA and Canada this March 2021 by Interlink Books. Thanks also to Interlink Books for sponsoring this Book Giveaway (USA only).

Our journey with ‘Wanda‘ began when publisher Carol Broomhall of Jacana contacted us about the book. We had worked with Carol the previous year on ‘The Singing Stone’ – a beautiful tale of magic and song from author Wendy Hartmann, so we were delighted to hear about this exciting new book coming from childhood best friends and debut authors Sihle and Mathabo. Working as a duo ourselves, we were excited to be paired with an author team of two, too!

When we worked on the character of Makhulu (Wanda’s granny) we wanted to show her character to reveal the very special person that she is. We gave her funky grey dreadlocks, a bold and bright print dress, kind and loving eyes behind her glasses. It was such a joy to hear author Mathabo shrieking with delight when she saw the final illustration. ‘That’s her EXACTLY!’ she shouted. A very good day!!

We’re very proud to say that ‘Wanda‘ is Jacana Media’s fastest selling children’s book. That ‘Wanda‘ has been taken on by Interlink Books and is now published as a beautiful hardcover in the USA and Canada. And that’s not all… but we can’t yet tell you where else ‘Wanda‘ will surface in 2022 – watch this space!!



Mathabo Tlali was born and bred in the Eastern Cape and has the yearning to understand and engage the thoughts and realities of others through various artistic and digital platforms. A thespian at heart, she is a practitioner who currently engages the form of contemporary performance in order to translate her ideas; writing, directing, physical performance and producing are her key areas of interest.

She is currently completing her second undergraduate major in sociology at Rhodes University, after completing her primary major, drama and performance studies. She seeks to explore intersectional ways of connectivity between the past, present and future, more so pertaining to identity politics within the performance and academic space.


Sihle Nontshokweni is a PhD candidate at KU Leuven. Her research is focused on the successes and failures of school desegregation in post-apartheid South Africa. Prior to that, she lived in China, completing a master’s at Peking University, where she studied the aspirations of African migrant entrepreneurs living in Guangzhou, south of China. She has a deep interest in how racialised contexts affect identity and aspirations. Sihle is an avid reader and is passionate about creating positive content through YouTube and her personal blog She is a lover of adventure and fitness, having completed a marathon and the popular Cape Cycle Tour.


Chantelle and Burgen Thorne are internationally published illustrators with over 20 years’ experience in educational publishing. Their focus is picture books for children with several more titles being released internationally this year, because the magic of children’s books is that they’re not just for kids. Avid bookworms themselves, they take great delight in the visual storytelling of picture books, art and text working together, every word and every image adding to the reader’s experience.

Both have fond memories of being read to as children and this inspires them to make their illustrations as engaging, honest and relevant to young readers as they possibly can—what a wonderful way to spend one’s working day!

MATHABO and SIHLE thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love the theme of the book. I love how everything came together for you. I love that it is winning awards and I love how Chantelle and Burgen’s wonderful illustrations brought the story to life. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This book looks incredible for helping me to teach “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors!” Thanks for the chance! I’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter, and instagram! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Candice! Glad you like the book 🙂


  2. Loving this book! Will be Tweeting about it @nursepooh1. Thank you for a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wonderful, Jodie! Thank you 🙂


  3. So adorable! This looks wonderful. Congratulations!

    I follow by email and will tweet this post, Kathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great stuff! Thanks for your continued support, Angie 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a beautiful looking book. I’m particularly drawn to the illustrations. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared an image with a link:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a great day!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you like the illustrations, Carl 🙂
      Thanks for sharing it!


  5. I can’t wait to read this book! Such an important subject and so beautifully illustrated. I’m an email subscriber and shared:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing Wanda on your social media and thanks for your kind words, Danielle! Hope you love the book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This book looks both important and fantastic. Beautiful illustrations and wonderful message. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the post and the chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your kind words! Hope you LOVE Wanda 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I follow your blog by email

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so excited about this book! How wonderful to see a South African story, that is also a worldly story about cultural pride. Congratulations to the authors and illustrators, it looks wonderful. First to grab my attention is the title, beautifully hand lettered to incorporate the theme of the story. Brava!
    Sharing on Twitter and Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh, thank you! We had a lot of fun curling bits of the Wanda title to make it as special as the story and the little character herself! Thanks for sharing it on your social media 🙂


  9. What a beautiful and special story–can’t wait to read the whole book. Congrats and well done, Sihle, Mathabo, and Chantelle!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marci! Hope you enjoy the book 🙂


  10. My nephew and I bond by reading this book. Absolutely love it. Here’s to raising confident, empathetic kids who aren’t defined by unfounded standards. Thanks Sihle and Mathabo!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My nephew and I bond by reading this book. Love it. Here’s to raising confident, empathetic kids who aren’t defined by the world’s unfounded standards.
    Shared on Twitter @Chasingyellow_

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hear, hear, Sibabalwe!! Thanks for your kind words and for sharing Wanda on your social media 🙂


  12. I love it! I want to read this book now! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great! Hope you LOVE the book, Brenda 🙂


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