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Children's Fiction Africa

Chanda's Secrets

by (author) Allan Stratton

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2004
Africa, General, Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries, Girls & Women
Recommended Age
14 to 18
Recommended Grade
9 to 12
Recommended Reading age
14 to 18
  • CD-Audio

    Publish Date
    Mar 2011
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2004
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2004
    List Price
  • CD-Audio

    Publish Date
    Oct 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2004
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Teacher’s Guide

Download Teacher’s Guide

Where to buy it


Chanda’s mother is not herself, her younger sister is acting out, and her best friend needs help. A powerful story set amid the African HIV/AIDS pandemic.

In this sensitive, swiftly paced story, readers will find echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird as Chanda, a 16-year-old, astonishingly perceptive girl living in the small city of Bonang in Africa, must confront the undercurrents of shame and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

Through his artful style and dramatic storytelling, Allan Stratton captures the enduring strength of loyalty, the profound impact of loss, and a fearlessness that is powered by the heart. Above all, it is a story about living with truth.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to support organizations working to better the lives of Africans living with HIV/AIDS.

About the author


Allan Stratton
est l'auteur de renommée internationale du roman Le secret de Chanda, un livre sur la liste d'honneur Michael L.
Printz. Son adaptation cinématographique, Life Above All, a
remporté le prix François Chalais au Festival de Cannes. Son dernier roman
thriller pour jeunes adultes, Les chiens, a gagné le prix Red
Maple de l'Association canadienne des bibliothèques et a été mis en
nomination pour le prix Arthur Ellis et le prix Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz.
Allan habite à Toronto, en Ontario.


Allan Stratton is an acclaimed playwright and author, who began his career acting at the Stratford Festival and regional theaters across Canada. His plays include "Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii" and "Rexy!," winner of a Chalmers Award, the Dora Mavor Moore Award and the Canadian Author's Association Award. Leslie's Journal is Allan's first novel for teens. Allan now lives in Toronto with his partner, a dog, three cats and any number of fish.

Allan Stratton's profile page


  • Joint winner, YA Top Forty Fiction Titles, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association
  • Joint winner, Our Choice List, starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
  • Joint winner, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults List, ALA
  • Joint winner, The Year’s Best List, Resource Links
  • Joint winner, Skipping Stones Honor Award
  • Joint winner, Top Ten Fiction Titles, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association
  • Joint winner, Independent Publisher Book Award
  • Joint winner, Top 10 Black History Books for Youth, Booklist
  • Winner, Willow Award, Saskatchewan Library Association
  • Joint winner, Notable Books for a Global Society Award
  • Joint winner, New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age, starred citation
  • Winner, Best Book for Older Readers, Children’s Africana Book Awards
  • Joint winner, Editor’s Choice, Booklist
  • Joint winner, Book of the Year Award, Foreword Reviews
  • Commended, Children’s Book Award Notable Book
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal
  • Winner, Michael L. Printz Honor Book for Excellence in YA Literature, ALA
  • Winner, Young Adult Canadian Book Award, Canadian Library Association
  • Commended, White Pine Award Honour Book, Ontario Library Association
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Young Adults List, ALA

Editorial Reviews

Chanda’s Secrets is a novel with the lilt of Africa in its language and the urgency of adolescent struggle in every paragraph. When AIDS isn't just a faraway acronym, but a sinister, invisible poison that threatens to steal your family, creep into your nightmares, break your heart and darken your future, how do you learn to grow up with love and courage? That’s one of Chanda’s secrets. This powerful story hits home with its harsh truths, its pain and its hard-won hopefulness. No-one can read Chanda’s Secrets and remain untouched by the young people who are caught in the AIDS pandemic and still battling to make sense of their lives.”

Stephen Lewis, UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa

“Smart and determined, Chanda is a character whom readers come to care for and believe in, in spite of her almost impossible situation. The details of sub-Saharan African life are convincing and smoothly woven into this moving story of poverty and courage, but the real insight for readers will be the appalling treatment of the AIDS victims. Strong language and frank description are appropriate to the subject matter.”

School Library Journal, *starred review

“Compassionate, heart-breaking story . . . This is the best sort of 'issue' novel. It is immensely readable. It alerts its adolescent audience to a real and pressing matter, and it inspires compassion-perhaps even activism-by putting a precise, human face on sorrow.”

Toronto Star

“This is a searing book on an important subject . . . Stratton neither overplays nor underplays the tragedy or the hope here, and there is not a maudlin moment in the novel, just genuine grief and understanding as the epidemic assumes some of its many human faces.”

The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books

“The statistics of the millions infected with HIV/AIDS in southern Africa find a human face in this gripping story of one teenager . . . Chanda’s immediate, first-person,present-tense narrative is neither sentimental nor graphic as it brings close the personal struggle with all its pain and loss, shame and guilt . . . The message about overcoming ignorance and shame and confronting the facts is ever-present, but the tense story and the realistic characters-caring, mean, funny, angry, kind, and cruel-will keep kids reading and break the silence about the tragedy.”

Booklist, *starred review

“Deserves a five-star rating.”

Grown Up’s Guide to the Best Children’s Books, 08/08/15

“A finely nuanced, beautifully articulated polemic, with a sparkling main character.”

The Globe and Mail

“Well-paced, robust prose and well-cadenced dialogue . . . provide a gripping and heart-wrenching reading experience designed for mature readers . . . Highly recommended.”

CM Reviews

“A book of great hope that features one of the most inspiring heroines to be found in teen literature today.”

Holly Koelling, Michael L. Printz Award Committee Member

“The first step to solving the AIDS crisis in Africa is to raise awareness about the disease. This novel begins to do just that for a younger generation . . . It is not only an important book, it is also a good story.”


“Courage, honesty and commitment to oneself are qualities that are fostered in this fantastic text.”

Resource Links

“The strong, respectful writing makes this crucial and broadly relevant story unfailingly human.”

Kirkus Reviews

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