Cover image for Jamela's dress
Jamela's dress
Daly, Niki.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus Giroux, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Jamela gets in trouble when she takes the expensive material intended for a new dress for Mama, parades it in the street, and allows it to become dirty and torn.
Reading Level:
AD 420 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.3 0.5 32488.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.5 2 Quiz: 21706 Guided reading level: L.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



"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...[A] warmly evocative picture book, set in South Africa."-Starred/Publishers Weekly

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 3-7. In a happy wedding story set in a lively South African black township, Jamela gets in trouble when she messes up the special fabric her mother bought to make a dress for a family wedding. Daly's light-filled, rhythmic double-page spreads show Jamela dressed up in her mom's high-heeled shoes, dreamily stepping out with the brightly patterned fabric wrapped around her, parading through the streets, trailing through the dust, bumping into chickens, while the kids sing and chant "Kwela Jamela African Queen." Then there's a rude awakening when she suddenly realizes that the fabric is torn and dirty and Mama has nothing to wear to the wedding. Of course, everything ends happily for Mama and for Jamela. Kids will relate to the dressing up and the street commotion and also to the close-up scenes of Jamela and Mama in their house together. The fascinating, brief afterword about the role of "kwela" pennywhistle music played on the streets of Cape Town--under apartheid and now--will have readers wanting to know more about it. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0374336679Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.