Niki Daly is probably the best-known author illustrator creating picture books in South Africa. His books have strong African themes and reflect multicultural South Africa, but they are also universal in their themes. One of his favourite themes is the solitary child finding self worth with the help of a trusted adult, often a grandparent, aunt or family friend. In Once Upon a Time, Sarie is struggling with learning to read and Aunty Anna makes the time and takes the effort to help her feel confident enough to have a go. In Not So Fast, Songololo, a small boy Malusi helps his grandmother, Gogo with the shopping. The love between them and his respect for her shines through. The names of the people are poetic and the watercolour illustrations perfect.
In my library Niki Daly is best known for his books about Jamela. Where's Jamela? amuses any children who read it. They love the fact that Jamela doesn't want to move house and hides rather than go and yet ends up going anyway in the box she has hidden in. Jamela is mischievous, playful and fun-loving and reading the five titles about her means that the reader gets to know her well.
The students at the school I teach at have very little experience of children with black skin, so they are often reticent to borrow books where the main character looks different from themselves. This is sad, but a fact, and so I see that it is up to me to make sure that the children and their parents have their reading horizons widened and see that children have the same concerns no matter where they live. If I share a book, enthuse about it or provide follow-up activities, then it is likely that they will borrow that book or others in the series or by the author. Displaying these books with puppets or toys always helps as well.