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Jamela'S Dress Paperback – March 4, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Daly (Bravo, Zan Angelo!) splashes luminous watercolors across the pages of this warmly evocative picture book, set in his native South Africa. Jamela's mother purchases a length of costly fabric for a wedding, and after washing it, leaves Jamela in charge of the cloth while it dries. Jamela, however, can't resist playing dress-up with the gorgeous material. As she struts through town trailing the fabric like a train, passersby greet her with the refrain "Kwela Jamela African Queen!" She poses for a triumphant photo, but is crestfallen when a boy on a bike accidentally spoils the fabric. But all's well that ends wellA when her photographer friend wins a cash prize for the photo he took of regal Jamela, he replaces the ruined material. Daly displays a knack for pinning down domestic details that will resonate with his audience, from Jamela teetering about in her mother's red shoes to the look of contrition on her face as she gets a scolding. The affectionate interaction between mother and daughter is particularly well delineated; the bond of love between them emanates from the warmth of the oranges and yellows in the fabric at the center of the tale. Subtle accents add to the exotic flavor of the setting, from the Nelson Mandela poster hanging on a shop's wall to the chickens running loose in the streets. A sympathetic and light-hearted slice of life. Ages 5-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A delicious book full of noisy warmth ... Nick Daly's rhythmical musical language perfectly complements the bold pictures, the two merging together to form a vibrant beat of African expression || Bursting with life and charm ... Daly's depiction of South African town life is akin to the best kinds of travel illustration; it makes you want to walk right down the streets || This wonderful story set in South Africa tells how Jamela gets carried away by the gorgeous material her mother buys to make a dress to wear at Thelma' s wedding. Wrapping it around herself, she shows it off to all her friends. How beautiful it is and how beautiful she is in it. But parading the material around in front of her friends gets it damaged and Jamela feels terrible when she realises what she' s done. Luckily, there' s a happy ending for all in this warm-hearted story about a special occasion within a community || In this busy and engaging tale, Niki Daly has captured a reflection of multicultural, modern South Africa. Told through the persepective of a child, Jamela's dance through the streets tells a larger story of acceptance and change.
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Top customer reviews
The pictures move with the story, and are great discussion points. Children may not be aware that the story is taking place outside of their neighborhood which brings up the chance to discuss how other cultures may live. The end with the dress made with new fabric shows a more traditional style dress of the area, another discussion point.
With how little international books we can find in the US I recommend this one as a parent and educator. The children I read it to, from 3 years old to 10 all enjoyed the theme and the energetic illustrations.
Buuuuut... well... she got a little carried away taking it to show everybody. And the fabric is ruined. There's a bit of a contrived happy ending, though I guess children mightn't realize it.
I love how realistically Jamela is portrayed. Volunteering to keep the fabric safe and the forgetting is *exactly* how children act. And I like that "Even Jamela was cross with Jamela" at the end - children really can be their own harshest critics. But what I really love is the final sequence - armed with new fabric, Jamela's mother (clearly having learned her lesson) stays with her and sings and plays as the fabric dries on the clothesline, and then she makes a dress for her daughter. It's clear how much they love each other, and it just sends warm fuzzy feelings everywhere.
Jamela and her mother, residents of South Africa, are out shopping for dress fabric on fine and frolicksome day. After locating a beautiful but costly skein of orange/yellow weave, the two buy it up and wash the stiffness out of it. As the fabric dries on the line, Jamela's mama tells her daughter, in no uncertain terms, to keep the dog off of it. She doesn't want anything messing it up. Technically, Jamela obeys her mother's orders. The dog never gets the fabric dirty. Jamela, on the other hand, takes it on a joyous walk down the street, drawing the attention of many friends and neighbors. Too soon, however, Jamela must face the consequences of her actions and her mama is left unconsolable. It's only through an odd quirk of fate that Jamela is inadvertently responsible for her mother's new dress and a little surprise of her own.
Niki Daly must have kids. I've never said that about a single picture book illustrator before, but I think I have to say it now. There's something in Jamela's face that is dead on. When she wraps herself in the lovely remains of the fabric as her acquaintance Archie takes her picture, her face is a glowing combination of smugness and preschool pride. In fact, Daly has also captured the movements of his characters beautifully in this story. From Jamela's traipse along the dusty dirty street to the rambunctious clamering of friends and neighbors, Daly has an eye for natural human relations. There are delightful tiny details to observe as well. Note that when Jamela takes her walk she has obviously outfitted herself as well in her mama's too large red sandals.
And then there are the colors and fabrics in this story. The only picture book I've read that rivals this one in delightful material selection would have to be Lloyd Alexander's, "The Fortune Teller". Together, these two books would make one heckuva good storytime session. In this book, every person in this book wears realistic and fitting clothing. Archie sports a remarkable matching print suit while Jamela eventual comes to wear an elephant infused jumper. And Daly's so adept that you can sometimes make out the shifting colors and shades that make up each one of Jamela's dredlocks.
In an Author's Note at the end, Niki Daly gives some additional information about the history of the term "Kwela" (a word that pops up more than once in this book) giving the reader a little more information about South Africa itself. It fits the book well. I'd often heard wonderful things about the Jamela book series, but I'd never had the pleasure of actually reading one before. Now that I have, I'm happy to have found it. It's a vibrant and entirely pleasing concoction.