Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Jamela's Dress

Jamela's Dress

4.0 1
by Niki Daly

See All Formats & Editions

Jamela gets in trouble when she takes the material intended for a new dress for Mama, parades it in the street, and allows it to become dirty and torn. But there is a happy ending in store for "Kwela Jamela African Queen," and just in time.


Jamela gets in trouble when she takes the material intended for a new dress for Mama, parades it in the street, and allows it to become dirty and torn. But there is a happy ending in store for "Kwela Jamela African Queen," and just in time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In South Africa, Jamela's mother purchases some costly fabric for a wedding and leaves the girl in charge of it. Jamela struts through the town trailing the fabric like a train. "The affectionate interaction between mother and daughter is particularly well delineated," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 well-- 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. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
The author drew upon memories of his boyhood in South Africa for this wonderfully illustrated story about love and family and celebration. Jamela's mama has bought a beautiful piece of fabric to make a special dress for a wedding. It is so beautiful, Jamela drapes the material around her shoulders and sashays through town like a princess. Everyone waves to her and Jamela is feeling so proud she scarcely notices that the fabric is dragging along on the ground and that a boy rides over it on his bicycle. It is being picked at by chickens and pulled at by a dog. Jamela has a grand time until she realizes that the material is ruined and she has to go home and face her mama. Jamela's facial expressions are telling, as they change from joy, to apprehension and then misery because now her mama will not have a new dress for the wedding. The expressions reflect perfectly the child who knows she has done something bad, not because she is bad, but because she is a child. Through a surprising turn of events the story ends happily at the wedding celebration.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Who could resist playful, imaginative Jamela? She falls in love with the fabric her mother buys to make herself a dress for a friend's wedding. Caressing its brightly colored patterns and wrapping herself in its softness, the child parades through town to cheers and chants of "Kwela Jamela African Queen!" Caught up in the moment, she doesn't realize that the beautiful fabric has been stained by bicycle grease and torn by chickens. Everyone is angry with her; "Even Jamela was cross with Jamela," but the day is saved by a young man who has captured the hilarity on film. A few days later, the photo wins a prize and the photographer offers Jamela some of the award money to replace the ruined fabric. Mama makes a magnificent dress for herself, as well as one for "Kwela Jamela African Queen!" The story is filled with the musical language of South Africa. Daly's illustrations are vibrant and colorful, and impart a child's-eye view of the world. Particularly effective are the endpapers that repeat the patterns of the bright orange, yellow, and green fabric. In a final note, the author reflects on his childhood memories, explaining the old and new meanings for the Nguni word kwela. A delightful read-aloud that will be enjoyed by a wide audience.-Joan Zaleski, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
Mama "needs something special to wear for Thelma's wedding," and she's worked hard to earn the money for the beautiful new dress material. Jamela proudly helps wash and hang the material, and earnestly promises, "I'll look after it, Mama." But the lovely colors and patterns are too inviting, and, inevitably, Jamela is soon parading through the town wrapped in the material and trailing the extra behind her, oblivious to the damage being done by a bicycle, dog, and chicken. Of course, when she realizes what she's done, Jamela is crushed; a full-page picture of the small, tearful girl in short-legged overalls elicits total compassion. All is saved when a prize-winning photograph of the fabric-adorned Jamela brings money for a new length of material-enough for dresses for Mama and Jamela both. Daly's sun-lit watercolors capture the distinctive setting of the South African town as well as the emotional rollercoastering of a small child. Exuberant in the flowing fabric and Mama's high-heeled shoes, Jamela affects grown-up airs, but melts contentedly into little girl in Mama's forgiving embrace. Her longing for the material is made palpable by the sumptuous pattern on the opening endpapers, enticing viewers to run their fingers over the cool pages. The brilliant fabrics depicted in clothing throughout the book add visual pleasure to the empathetic story of a very real child.

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Jamela Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.05(w) x 11.43(h) x 0.12(d)
AD420L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Niki Daly is the author and illustrator of many picture books, including Old Bob's Brown Bear, What's Cooking, Jamela?, and Once Upon a Time. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Jamela's Dress 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My toddler loves this book. She wants it read to her every night before bed. It's a feel good story for her. She really enjoys the story line and pictures.