Sunday, May 20, 2007

Happy Feet! Happy Birthday, Jamela!, by Niki Daly

Jamela's birthday party is coming, and Mama buys her a beautiful party dress, but when it comes to new shoes, Mama passes up the sparkly white Princess Shoes with little white satin bows and insists on a pair of sensible black school shoes instead!

Alone in her room, Jamela wished that, somehow, when she opened the shoe box, she'd find the Princess Shoes inside. But when she looked, a pair of strong black school shoes lay there like heavy bricks. They smelled nice--but they could never, ever be birthday girl shoes.... They needed sparkle and glitter.

In Happy Birthday, Jamela! Niki Daly's ever resourceful heroine comes up with a solution to her shoe problem. Artfully, Jamela pulls out her school glue and some glittery beads and bits and transforms those clunky shoes into shiny dancing shoes fit for a princess.

Mama and Grandma Gogo are not pleased with Jamela's creations. In fact, Mama is so angry that Gogo suggests that Jamela go outside and give Mama time to cool down. Luckily, when Jamela's artistic neighbor Lily sees her fabulous footwear, she invites Jamela to help her decorate more shoes to sell in the market. The shoes are a hit, and Lily shares her profit with her partner Jamela.

When Jamela takes the money home to Mama, Mama reciprocates by buying her a new pair of school shoes and--as a surprise, Jamela unwraps a beautiful pair of Princess Shoes at her birthday party!

Jamela is a child whose imagination and spunky good sense shine through as brightly as her special shoes in Daly's delightful water color illustrations. The bright and cheerful South African setting adds an exotic note to the story, but the importance of finding just the right shoes for a special occasion is universal for little, and not so little, girls.

Earlier books about Jamela include Jamela's Dress, What's Cooking, Jamela? (a really unusual story in which the chicken slated to be their Christmas dinner becomes Jamela's special guest), and Where's Jamela?.



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