cover image Kami and the Yaks

Kami and the Yaks

Andrea Stenn Stryer, , illus. by Bert Dodson. . Bay Otter, $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-09778961-0-3

S et in a rural Asian community and featuring a child hero with a physical disability, this debut picture book appears to head toward a moral lesson, but Dodson's skill and Stryer's fast-moving text combine to provide a genuinely rousing story. Kami and his family are Himalayan Sherpas and their strong, sturdy yaks are their most important possessions. When the yaks don't return one day, Kami sets out to look for them with his whistle: “Its buzz tickled his lips, though he could not hear its shrill call because he was deaf.” Although he finds the animals and discovers why they won't come back, he can't convince his father to take his gestured warnings seriously. Kami's deafness figures into the story, but it's his grit and resourcefulness that drive the action forward. With a nimble brush, Dodson creates an entire Himalayan world for readers, who—like Kami—can only gather knowledge from what they see. Kami's heavy coat and hat, the sheer cliffs and paths that make up the landscape and the patient yaks all seem close enough to touch. In the end, Kami helps Father rescue the yaks; in contrast to his earlier anger, “Father picked him up and clasped him to his chest.” For all the adversity Kami faces, he has the opportunity to do real, important work for his family that modern children often do not; they may read his story not just with interest, but with envy. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)