Animal Village is one of three books selected by the United Nations SDG Book Club to help children learn about the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal #13: Climate Action.  Greta Thunberg's book, No one is Too Small to Make a Difference, is among the three recommended books on the Reading List.

Animal Village
Reviews and Awards:

-IBBY HONOR LIST 2020 (International Board on Books for Young People)
Country: Ghana    Category: Illustrator

-CABA 2019 Honor Book for Young Children

-Storytelling World Honor Award 2019, 

-Kirkus Reviews' Best Indie Books of 2018

-Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of the Month, June 2018

-Starred Kirkus Review 2018

-2018 Next Generation Indie Book Finalist (Picture Book 6 Years & Up)

-Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2018 (Award winning children's book, Award winning children's picture book, Best books for children)

-2018 Literary Classics International Book Awards: GOLD MEDAL (Folklore)
                                                                                                       SILVER MEDAL (Picture Book) 

Animal Village named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Indie Books of 2018

Literary Classics Seal of Approval 

Gold Medal and Silver Medal


2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist

Summary: A tortoise saves her village from the ravages of drought with wisdom passed down from an "old story."

"A group of animals tries working together to save a village in this picture book based on an African story....LaTeef is an author/illustrator to watch." 

                                                                                           --Starred Kirkus Review

"Animal Village is a lovely tale with an enduring message of strength in humility and the power of persistence."   

                                            --LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews

                  Available in English, French, and Spanish editions.

Awarded the Kirkus Star, one of the most 

prestigious designations in the book publishing 

industry signifying a book of exceptional merit.


A group of animals tries working together to save a village in this picture book based on an African story.

In West Africa, there is a peaceful village of only animals, ruled by Chief Zamboha, the lion. But one year, their tranquility is interrupted by a drought that lasts long past the dry season. Zamboha asks all the creatures for ideas, and tortoise Timba tells the group about a tale from their ancestors that said water could be found by digging. While the community is skeptical, Zamboha supports Timba, and the animals begin to dig. They dig for days and days, and finally they grow tired and doubt the tortoise’s supposed wisdom. Faced with a rebellion, Zamboha watches helplessly as the villagers tell Timba to leave. Although the tortoise is determined to never go back, she pauses near a dry riverbed and decides to dig once more. Soon she finds water, and, despite the rejection of her cohorts, she returns to share it with them. Overjoyed, the animals make her their chief. LaTeef (The Hunter and the Ebony Tree, 2002, etc.) skillfully captures the folktale’s flavor, using repeated refrains—especially Timba’s “everything is possible, by and by”—to reinforce the story’s themes. While the message is powerful, it’s the acrylic, India ink, and collage images that will command children’s attention. The collage aspect gives the animals depth and texture, and the contrast of the earth tones with the bright blue water is stunning. LaTeef is an author/illustrator to watch.

World folktale collections should welcome this beautifully illustrated volume.  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Animal Village earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Gold Medal and Silver Medal

Literary Classics is an organization dedicated to promoting excellence in literature. Through our AWARDS, BOOKSREVIEWS, and SEAL OF APPROVAL PROGRAM, we help you sort through the many books in circulation today. It is our goal to help you select the finest books available. Additionally, our programs offer opportunities for publishers, authors and illustrators to receive recognition for providing excellence in literature.

In the village of Zandair lived a colony of animals which had prospered for many years.   But then one year no rain fell from the sky, the lake dried up, and the animals became weak from thirst and hunger.  The village chief gathered all the animals together to see what might be done to save them all.  None of the animals had any advice to offer their chief save one lowly turtle named Timba.  Timba humbly recalled a story from many years ago when her ancestors faced a similar plight. The other animals scoffed at Timba’s suggestion, but with no other ideas the chief determined they should give Timba’s idea a try. 

Animal Village is a lovely tale with an enduring message of strength in humility and the power of persistence.  Beautifully penned and illustrated by Nelda LaTeef, the pages of this book come to life as children are inspired by this time-honored folk tale.  Recommended for home and school libraries, Animal Village has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval   




   “In her book, Animal Village, such mighty lessons Nelda LaTeef teaches the young and those of us who are not so young. Listen to the ‘old stories’ passed down from ‘the ancestors;’ it is always better to pull together rather than stand against each other; keep at a task until it is done; and everything is possible, by and by.”

Johnnetta Betsch Cole,

Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art


   "Animal Village is an inspiring story that teaches us perseverance and the value of working together. What is true in the animal village equally holds for our global village."

Benita Ferrero-Waldner,

European Commissioner for Trade and European Neighborhood Policy,

United Nations Chief of Protocol, and Foreign Minister of Austria


Creative Illustration Technique, Valuable Cultural Insights, Great Story

Animal Village will inspire young children with its message of determination and individual initiative in the face of social pressure, but it's the illustrations that will draw kids in and enchant themalong with the adult readers with whom they share. The author/illustrator's unusual collage/multimedia technique incorporates wonderful colors and patterns, making this book appear strikingly like no other. The cultural insights from the story and the author's afterword provide additional value. A fine choice for a thoughtful or artistic child.


Editor, Bob Holtzman


Author Brings African Wisdom to The Reader

Animal Village, written and illustrated by Nelda LaTeef, is a most beautiful and delightful book. Written for children it is also completely engaging for adults because in telling the folktale the author brings African wisdom to the reader along with her amazing illustrations which capture the colors, shadows and space of Africa. Nelda LaTeef acts like an African griot, or story teller, in using her illustrations to capture the feeling, the temperature and the openness of Africa, as she passes along the story of another griot from a Zarma village in West Africa to audiences around the world. My grandchildren and their friends in London loved searching for the different animals and hearing about their cooperation in solving the problem of not having enough water. The story makes what children often hear in the news about climate change causing water shortages more real. I have purchased several copies to give away because every child I read the story to wants to hear it again and again. It is a wonderful new classic.

—Elbrun Kimmelman, NYC

Beating Climate Change

Is it possible that a wise tortoise in Niger knows the secret to beating climate change? The answer can be found in Animal Village, an award-winning book by noted children’s book author/illustrator Nelda LaTeef.

Nancy Croft Baker, INMED Communications Director