Knopf to Publish Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Debut Children’s Picture Book in September 2023


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2021 (c) Manny Jefferson

Alfred A. Knopf will publish MAMA’S SLEEPING SCARF, the debut children’s picture book by bestselling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, writing as Nwa Grace James, and illustrated by Joelle Avelino, on September 5, 2023. The announcement was made by Knopf EVP and Publisher Reagan Arthur. US rights were acquired from Sarah Chalfant at the Wylie Agency. The book will be published in hardcover and ebook formats, and as an audiobook, by Penguin Random House.

Adichie wrote MAMA’S SLEEPING SCARF for her daughter, who was three years old at the time. The story, energetic and joyful, is inspired by the Adichie family and portrays an ordinary day in Lagos. The beautifully illustrated book follows a young girl called Chino as she plays with her mama’s scarf, spots her grandfather on his walk and winds down to go to sleep. This is a picture of family life – with its natural hourly rhythms and all the miracles of the everyday – as seen through the eyes of a child.

“We are excited to publish Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s debut children’s book at Knopf,” says Arthur. “MAMA’S SLEEPING SCARF is beautiful and moving story of family over the course of a single day, gorgeously illustrated by Joelle Avelino. Chimamanda is a global literary phenomenon who has created a new classic that will beloved by children and adults alike.”

Lexy Bloom, Adichie’s editor at Knopf, says, ““At the heart of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bold, big-hearted novels are the essential themes of love and family, which she excels in narrating from a variety of perspectives. It is fitting, then, that she now turns her exceedingly talented eye to a children’s book, wherein we see the daily life of a little girl who worries when her mother leaves for the day, who turns a scarf into a plaything, who takes comfort in the warm embrace of the family around her. Through this lens, we are privileged to see Chimamanda as a mother, as a daughter, and as a powerful storyteller for a new generation.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria. She is the author of the short-story collection The Thing Around Your Neck and the novels Purple Hibiscus; Half of a Yellow Sun; and Americanah, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of three nonfiction books: Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions; We Should All Be Feminists, based on the author’s TED Talk of the same name; and, most recently, the autobiographical work Notes on Grief. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Joelle Avelino is a Congolese and Angolan illustrator who grew up in the UK. She obtained a BA (Hons) in Illustration with Marketing from the University of Hertfordshire. Avelino has illustrated several titles, including the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Baroness Floella Benjamin’s classic memoir Coming to England.

Posted: April 1, 2022