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Fatuma's New Cloth Hardcover – February 1, 2002


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Hardcover, February 1, 2002
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Moon Mountain Publishing; 1st edition (February 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967792975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967792972
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Bulion's tender tale set in East Africa, the traditions of chai (tea) and kanga cloth contribute to a mother's gentle lesson to her daughter. Mama and Fatuma walk to market where the girl will choose kanga cloth for a dress. Tadgell's (Just Call Me Joe Joe) luminescent watercolors depict the flowing grass and vermilion flowers that line the path to town; Mama's blue and golden kanga drapes gently over her head and shoulders. "Will you sew my new kanga when we get home from the market?" the child asks. When Mama promises to make chai as well, a trio of friendly vendors each offer a special ingredient for the brew, but none makes the chai "taste sweet like [Mama's]." Fanciful patterned borders on each spread hint at what's to come when Mama and Fatuma finally meet with the cloth vendor. Beautiful colors and fabrics fill the spreads as Fatuma searches for "a kanga the color of the deep sea and the early morning sky." When she finds it, Mama reads her the words embedded in the design "Don't be fooled by the color. The good flavor of chai comes from the sugar" and explains that what makes a person special is not always evident to the eye. An author's note describes East African customs and provides a recipe for chai. Tadgell's artwork highlights the glorious colors of the area's fabrics and landscapes, and demonstrates the warmth of a closely knit community in which tradition is paramount. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2-Fatuma is excited about helping her mother with the marketing in her East African village because she has been promised a kanga cloth of her own and a treat of chai, or tea, afterward. Various merchants offer opinions on the secret of perfect chai: a dark and strong color from the leaves, a light color from creamy milk, or a shiny new saucepan to boil it in. At the cloth shop, the girl chooses a kanga that is "the color of the morning sky meeting the waves of the sea." Each kanga pattern contains a Swahili saying, and Fatuma's reads, "Don't be fooled by the color. The good flavor of chai comes from the sugar," which can't be seen. Her mother uses Tuma as an analogy and the child exclaims, "What is good about me is on the inside, too!" While the message is sweet, the watercolor illustrations are somewhat blurry and washed out, and the story drifts along at a dreamy pace.
Anna DeWind Walls, Milwaukee Public Library
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

I write funny science poetry and middle grade novels for readers ages 6-100. My newest novel, 2012 Parent's Choice Award-winning THE UNIVERSE OF FAIR, is a zany middle grade adventure with fabulous illustrations by Frank W. Dormer. My poetry collection AT THE SEA FLOOR CAFE: ODD OCEAN CRITTER POEMS is a Bank Street College Best Book, was on the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2011 summer reading list, and was a 2011 Parents' Choice Award winner. Visit lesliebulion.com for information on my workshops and virtual visits.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Penn on May 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Fatuma and her mother plan to spend their day in the market. Along the way, various merchants suggest their wares make chai (tea) taste better, but she does not see how their offerings make the chai taste differently. Then at the cloth shop, Fatuma chooses a new kanga cloth from which her mother will make her dress. Each Kanga pattern is imprinted with a Swahili saying, many of which have more than one meaning. Fatuma chooses a kanga imprinted with this message: "Don't be fooled by the color. The good flavor of chai comes from the sugar." So she learns that just as surgery dissolves becoming something we cannot not see, so are the things make us special as impossible to see.
FATUMA'S NEW CLOTH provides not only an entertaining tale, but also a fascinating peek into a vastly different culture from most American children's. In America, we teach our children, "don't judge a book by its cover." In Swahili, the same lesson is expressed as "don't judge the tea by its color." Parents will welcome the message that the value of people lies on the inside where we cannot see. In addition, parents seeking to teach their children the lessons of acceptance of other people's beliefs and culture will find the story an excellent aid. In addition, authentic East African features and kanga patterns frame the pages, lending the text an extraordinary visually pleasing appearance as charming illustrations bring the text alive. An author's note at the end aids parents to further explain the nuances of the story. Also included is a recipe for chai, allowing young children to experience the story first hand. Very highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The lesson tells us, "you can't judge a book by its cover." But the inviting jacket art for Fatuma's New Cloth makes a promise that is fulfilled by a story that is as lush and lively as its illustrations.
The dialog between Fatuma and her mother sings with love, gentleness and humor.The author creates a story that is appealing to both girls and boys and one that is useful to parents and educators.
This delectable slice of East African culture lingers like the sweet taste of chai. (By all means, try the recipe!)
I recommend Fatuma's New Cloth and I look forward to seeing more books by Leslie Bulion.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Fatuma's New Cloth is an energetic and highly recommended children's picturebook about Fatuma, a young East African girl who learns about the complexities of the marketplace. There is even a recipe for East African chai (tea) included in this highly enjoyable tale by Leslie Bulion, whose engaging text is superbly complemented by the soft, watercolor-style illustrations by Nicole Tadgell.
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