Once upon a Camel

Kathi Appelt, illus. by Eric Rohmann. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5344-0643-8
Newbery Honoree Appelt’s storytelling-interested novel, set in 1910, features an unlikely friendship between an aging camel and a family of American kestrels in the West Texas desert. Zada’s joints are achy, but when a massive sandstorm threatens newly hatched chicks Wims and Beulah, the elderly ruminant Auntie rises to the occasion, eager to help the two to safety at the nearby abandoned Mission, a trip that takes on new urgency when a gust blows the kestrel parents off-course. Taking refuge in a mountain lion’s lair with the distressed chicks burrowed in her fur, Zada—like her namesake Scheherazade—seeks to entertain. In a second story thread that alternates with the first, Zada relates her upbringing in Turkey, career as an elite racing camel with best friend Asiye, and unexpected journey to Texas as a gift from the Turkish government to the U.S. Army. In prose that’s sometimes playful and frequently sensorial (“Sweet and spicy aromas intertwined with the salty fragrance of the sea”), Appelt’s celebration of owning one’s history proves both empowering and entertaining. Lush occasional oil paintings by Caldecott Medalist Rohmann bring readers into Zada’s world. Ages 8–12. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/05/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Children's
Book - 978-1-5344-0644-5
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