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Black Children’s Books Review: Sleep Well, Siba And Saba


Black Children’s Books Review: Sleep Well, Siba And Saba

Words: mater mea

Two adorably forgetful Ugandan sisters discover their Black Girl Magic in this story book.


Who knew a tendency to misplace your most beloved items could lead to something magical?

That’s the case for the two sisters in Sleep Well, Siba and Saba by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl, a picture book perfect for young readers ages 3-7.

Siba and Saba have a problem that many kids—and, to be honest, quite a few adults—can relate to: They’re constantly losing their things.

From sweaters and sashes to sandals and shawls, the two seem to misplace their possessions as soon as they get their tiny hands on them. We follow the sisters as they make their way around their hometown of Kampala, Uganda, losing track of one thing or the other except, as the book so sweetly points out, each other.

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But every night, after their dad lovingly tucks them in to bed, Siba and Saba are reunited with everything they’ve lost in their dreams—taken back to the moment when they were separated in vivid dreams that take readers to some of Kampala’s must-see sites.

“I was inspired to write the book when I was pregnant with my daughter and could not find any children’s books that captured the beauty of Uganda,” author Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl says. “My goal is to focus on crafting stories for global audiences inspired by my Ugandan heritage. Set primarily in East and Southern Africa, my stories aim to illuminate the everyday and diverse experiences of African children, while celebrating human universality.”

Author Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl.

Author Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl.

Illustrator Sandra van Doorn’s sweetly rendered scenes paint a Uganda that’s accessible for children from all over the world, whether they’re just learning of Kampala or whether they can recognize the Luganda being spoken in the pages. There’s a childlike quality to the drawings, with bright yellows, reds, and greens popping off of each page, as the sisters—in afro puffs and flat twists—watch a waterfall, go on safari, or swim at the beach.

But one evening, Siba and Saba’s dreams are different. Instead of remembering where they’ve been, the sisters are transported to fantastical places where they do silly things like walking on stilts with flamingos and wearing a tufted, feathered headdress with cranes carrying umbrellas.

And this time, instead of dreaming of what they’ve lost, the sisters dream of things they’ve never had—like a coin in silk purse or a freshly starched school uniform.

When they wake up, Siba and Saba see those dreams turned into reality in unexpected ways, making these little dreamers excited for their futures and what lies ahead for them in their dreams and in reality.

Sleep Well, Siba and Saba is available on Amazon.

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