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Happy Birthday Jamela!    by Niki Daly order for
Happy Birthday Jamela!
by Niki Daly
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

South African author Niki Daly has written another charming picture book starring young Jamela. In honor of her upcoming birthday party, Jamela's mother and grandmother (whom she calls Gogo) buy her a new party dress and party shoes. Jamela has her heart set on a sparkly pair of Princess Shoes. Her mother can't afford those, though, and Jamela has to settle for a plain pair that will double as school shoes.

Inspired, Jamela glues beads and glitter all over her new shoes, creating an entirely new, completely impractical shoe. Mama becomes angry, so Jamela sits outside, waiting for her to cool down. In the meantime, a local artist, Lily, walks by. Lily is so impressed with how Jamela decorated her shoes that she offers her a chance to make and sell shoes at her stand in the market. Jamela earns enough money to buy another pair of school shoes. And another, even bigger surprise, is in store for Jamela at her birthday party.

Parents will appreciate how Jamela demonstrates understanding and respect toward her mother, values that most parents would like to reiterate to their children. Daly's illustrations of a South African family are rich and vibrant. And the story crosses cultural boundaries as all young children can appreciate Jamela's ingenuity and resourcefulness.

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