WHAT’S COOKING, JAMELA? by Niki Daly
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WHAT’S COOKING, JAMELA?

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 3 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

When her family purchases a young chicken, Jamela names her Christmas and enthusiastically helps to fatten her up for her namesake holiday. She gives her food and water, talks to her, and gives her gifts. Mama worries about the moment when Jamela will realize that the chicken must be cooked. She is right to worry. Jamela runs away with the chicken, only to lose it in a crowd. A mad chase ensues as Mama, Jamela, and Mrs. Zibi (the would-be chicken killer) attempt to recapture Christmas as she runs through the market, in and out of a taxi, and into Miss Style Hairdressers. Of course, Christmas is saved, because “You can’t eat friends.” Daly (Bravo, Zan Angelo!, 1998, etc.) seamlessly interweaves elements of the culture and language of a modern South African township in both the lively text and delightful, detailed illustrations. Jamela plays with African carved figures and animals, as well as a Mickey Mouse toy. The school nativity play includes Basuto hats, Madiba shirts, marimbas, and the baby carried on its mama’s back. The market is full of color and movement. A warm, close-knit family and community lovingly nurture Jamela. All the characters, major and minor, are drawn as distinct individuals with expressive faces and body language. The entire work is carefully crafted, from the chickens running across the endpapers to the glossary that clarifies word origins and meanings. But it is Jamela who is the star. She is mischievous, boisterous, loving, generous, worried, determined, even defiant, and it’s all there in her face. This little girl is a charmer and so is her story. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-35602-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001




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