Nothando's Journey

by Jill Apperson Manly
Illustrations by Alyssa Casey

About Nothando’s Journey

Nothando and her brother travel to the Reed Festival, but Nothando is nervous about dancing at the festival for the first time. Along the way, they encounter wild dogs, lions, elephants, and other animals. Learning how to imitate each animal’s movement, Nothando gains confidence and courage—and discovers she is grateful to be exactly who she is.

Author Jill Apperson Manly says she hopes Nothando (whose name translates as “love”) and her journey will encourage children to express themselves, learn about new cultures, and even learn mindfulness techniques and basic yoga poses (thanks to a simple, easy-to-follow movement guide in the back of the book).

Featuring rich, vibrant mixed-media illustrations by Alyssa Casey.

See what IndieReader thinks!


JabuKids, 40 pages, February 2016


Bronze Medal Winner - Picture Book (all ages) - Moonbeam Children's Book Award


2016 Foreword INDIES Finalist - Picture Books (children's) - Foreword Indies Book Award


Gold Medal Winner - Best Children's Picture Book (0-5 ages) - Next Generation Indie Book Award

Nothando’s Journey is a feast for the eyes and the heart, and comes to life through an authentic depiction of a young Swazi girl’s milestone festival participation. Her brother, the animals they encounter, and the journey all serve to guide Nothando’s attention inward to discover love and joy for herself, and her world. A kindly story that depicts the universality of human emotion, and a catalyst for valuable adult and child discussion

Margarita A. Arrué, MA, Teacher
Reading Specialist

Animated Movie

About the Producer

Joel Karabo Elliot

Joel Karabo Elliott, producer of the Nothando’s Journey musical animation film, is a composer and multi-instrumentalist originally hailing from the United States and resident of South Africa since 2008. While living in the rural spaces of the Limpopo and working with community agriculture and youth development projects, Joel found inspiration to fuse the elements of the African cultures and music he came to love with his deep background in classical, jazz and American folk, thus developing a unique musical voice. He is known locally as Karabo, a Sotho name meaning “Answer”. Joel’s musical releases and performances have drawn reverence from the soulful and the conscious across the continents as the Amer-African connection grows in stature on the human family tree.

Joel met author Jill Manly on his 2015 American tour, during which Jill welcomed him as a featured artist for the blessing of her Jabulani Yoga studio in January 2015. Although they had never met before, Jill followed her soul and trusted the African connection they shared, and indeed their friendship flourished from that memorable evening of music, story and dedication. Later, when Jill showed him the initial proofs of the children’s book Nothando’s Journey, Joel fell in love with the story and immediately offered to produce a short film back home on South African soil. Ever since, their connection has flourished in mutual love for human culture, spiritual ascension and the beauty of the African dream.

Grow Within Album Cover

Grow Within

Purchase the album below

The musical theme for Nothando’s Journey, called “Grow Within”, is also the title track of JKE’s musical work, Grow Within And You Shall Not Go Without. This album features a remarkable family of more than twenty South African and American artists, including Msaki, Naftali, Nkoto Malebye and Nono Nkoane.

About the Narrator

Bonisile Blacknote Bonisile

A poet and educator in Manzini, Swaziland, Bonisile ‘Blacknote’ Nxumalo is a multi-disciplinary artist with a flair for illuminating the emotions of Swazi women and children. She assisted Jill with the penpal (friendship letter) project connecting children in California and Swaziland, and then was eager to join the film project as well as a poetic narrator. Blacknote is one of Swaziland’s most respected performing and published poets, having released two books and a CD fusing poetry with indigenous music. Connect with the art of Blacknote here.

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We are excited to provide new activity opportunities to further engage interested children and students on a regular basis. As new activities will be added regularly, please check in frequently for more ways to use Nothando’s Journey with your child or classroom:

For Teachers:
Global Classroom Project

Jill’s vision is to share Nothando’s Journey as a journey of universal love. To that end, she is offering the Global Classroom Project to teachers all over the world, to help their students develop an appreciation of self and others in a global context. This letter-writing project pairs students with pen-pals in other countries, facilitating learning, sharing, “Oneness,” and the the knowledge that our humanness makes us more alike than we are different. This project is well into its pilot run. We will be taking new classrooms when the results of the pilot program are completed in June 2016. If you have a homeschooler or you are a teacher of a classroom interested in this self/global love project, please fill out our form. Thank you.



Interested? Contact us to get started:

About the Author

Yoga instructor and former overseas educator Jill Apperson Manly developed a deep passion for other cultures while teaching children in Swaziland—now, she is celebrating the practice of yoga and Swazi culture with a gorgeously-illustrated children’s book about Nothando, a girl who must learn from the strength and movements of local animals to face her fears and confidently take her place as a dancer at the Reed Festival in Nothando’s Journey.

Author Jill A. Manly Learn More





If children can learn about themselves — what their emotions are telling them, their sensations, and their thoughts, then they can better express themselves and their needs

Jill Manly, Author