Fatuma's New Cloth

Fatuma's New Cloth

by Leslie Bulion, Nicole Tadgell


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Little Fatuma and her mother are walking to market in contemporary East Africa, talking about the kanga cloth they will buy. Fatuma wants to wear her new kanga wrapped around her, grownup-fashion, but mother explains that Fatuma is too young, and must wear it sewn as a dress. As they walk, mother and daughter happily discuss learning to read, "helping," and the chai (tea) they will drink later while sewing the dress.

They arrive at the market and meet vendor after colorful vendor. Fatuma speaks with the milk lady, the spice merchant, and the pots-and-pans man. She is confused as each hawks his or her product as the essential ingredient for delicious-looking chai. Arriving finally at the cloth merchant's stall, Fatuma picks out a lovely kanga with the printed saying "Don't be fooled by the color. The good flavor of chai comes from the sugar." Fatuma asks her mother the meaning of the traditional East African proverb and her mother explains: virtue is not apparent on the outside.

Mother then applies the lesson, asking if Fatuma's virtues of industry and intelligent curiosity can be seen. As she wraps the huge bolt of kanga over Fatuma, her daughter answers, "Oh, Mama! You can't see those things at all. What is good about me is on the inside, too."

Fatuma's New Cloth teaches an important lesson--the East African equivalent of "You can't judge a book by its cover"--in a natural, narrative form. The illustrations accurately depict elements of contemporary African culture, including details of the market, the kanga fabric, and other elements of dress and society. Perhaps most significantly, it is an African story that is not about racial issues

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781511897884
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 06/24/2015
Pages: 34
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.09(d)

What People are Saying About This

Richard Posner

The luminous paintings shimmer with African heat, and the wide-eyed Fatuma charms us into heeding the story's lesson.
— Richard Posner, author of, Sparrow's Flight

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Fatuma's New Cloth 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The extraordinary beauty of the cover painting in this wonderful book is equaled only by the quality of the soft lyrical prose telling the tale within. This is a book for children (and adults) of all ages, gender, and race that tells a classic tale in a fresh and exquisitely beautiful way. Parents, grandparents, teachers, and all people who love children will want to have and share this book.