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Asian Festival of Children’s Content
25–28 May 2023

The Scholastic Asian Book Award (SABA) is the joint initiative of Scholastic Asia and Singapore Book Council (SBC).

SABA recognises children’s writers of Asian origin who are taking the experiences of life, spirit, and thinking in different parts of Asia to the world at large. The award also aims to promote the understanding of the Asian experience and its expression in innovative and creative forms.

Winners of the Scholastic Asian Book Award 2023 

Winner: Varsha Varghese

Title: The Summer Avisha Turned Detective

Varsha has an undergraduate degree in Economics and a master's degree in Development Studies. She has published two picture books and an emerging reader book as part of independent feminist projects. She has previously run a volunteer-led reading project working with children from under-resourced communities in Delhi. Her belief that all children deserve to see themselves in books they read informs her writing.

1st Runner-up: Ino Habana

Title: Amos and the Snow Tree

Ino Habana is a graduate Creative Writing student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.  His short stories have appeared in publications such as the Philippines Free Press and Likhaan: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature He has recently discovered the joy of writing for children. Ino grew up in Manila, but now divides his time between the big city and the beaches of Palawan, where he has found an island home.

Shortlisted authors

Vidya Nesarikar

Title: Lalli and Champa

Vidya Nesarikar is a children’s writer and storyteller based in Pune, India. She writes short stories and articles for newspapers and magazines such as the The Hindu and Champak Magazine for the last 10 years. Recently, she has been published in an anthology by Ponytale Books, When Mommy was a Little Girl. When not spinning tales, she works with the iTeach program to make hobby club activities such as public speaking accessible to children of low-income families. 

Zarin Virji

Title: Living with Adi

Zarin Virji, from Mumbai, is a graduate of the creative writing programme from the University of Sheffield, UK. For over three decades she has been a teacher, teacher trainer and head of school. Her writing is as much about expressing spontaneous feeling as it is about grappling with socio-economic realities of our times. Her writing has been featured in The Research Scholar, Route 57 and The Best Asian Short Stories 2018. Her book, Gopal’s Gully was published by Duckbill Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House India. 

Judges for the Scholastic Asian Book Award 2023

Varsha Seshan

Varsha Seshan is a children’s book writer based in Pune, India. Her published work includes four picture books, two chapter books, three middle-grade books and two collections of short stories. Her books have been shortlisted for the Neev Book Award 2021, the Singapore Book Award 2019, and the Scholastic Asian Book Award 2018 and 2016. Most recently, her picture book How I Feel made it to the Parag Honour List 2022.

Hanna Alkaf

Hanna Alkaf is the critically acclaimed author of the Freeman Award winner The Weight of Our Sky, the Kirkus Prize finalist The Girl and the Ghost, and Queen of the Tiles. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern University and spent over ten years in journalism and communications before trading in nonfiction for fiction. Her next books are the MG fantasy adventure Hamra & the Jungle of Memories (HarperCollins, March 28th 2023) and the YA magic school murder mystery anthology The Grimoire of Grave Fates (Delacorte Press, June 6th 2023).  Hanna lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family.

Don Bosco

Don Bosco started Super Cool Books with his sons in 2011, at first to publish their original stories, and later to produce thrilling fiction with publishing partners. Recently he has been developing gamebooks, where readers get to make decisions along the way in order to explore the storyworld and complete a mission. His popular gamebooks include the Last Kid Running middle grade series published by Penguin Random House, and The Secret of the Chatter Blocks, a chapterbook published by Super Cool Books.