Sunday, August 1, 2010

Camel Rider by Prue Mason

If you have no choice except to be a slave, would you want to be a camel rider? Sounds scary to me, but Walid enjoys camels and has a special relationship with one in particular.

This book was published by Charlesbridge, and is a trade paperback that is currently available in your local bookstore.

Adam comes from a well-to-family who lives in a compound in the Middle East. They are from Australia, but his father is flying for the Abudai Airlines, so they have moved. He has managed to hide his passport in his father's luggage so he can't return to Australia with his mother. His mother is very angry and leaves him home alone one day, with the servant. His father will be back the next day.

But Adam has an adventure planned. A last tour of the desert before he returns home. Not a bad plan, but plans change...

When the nearby city is bombed, he has to evacuate the city with neighbors, leaving his dog behind. He makes up his mind he will escape and go back after Tara, his dog.

In the meantime, Walid's favorite camel gets spooked and breaks her leg. His master loses not only the camel, but the baby she was carrying. He wants to kill Walid, but that would be too fast of a death for the boy. So he ties up his hands and legs and dumps him a cave in the desert to starve and die of dehydration.

The lives of these two boys converge by accident. Each one has opinions of the other's race and religious beliefs, and neither one has any respect for the other. Nor can they communicate by language, neither one understands the other.

Ms. Mason does an excellent job of depicting how the two begin trying to communicate, how each learns a few words of the opposite language, how they learn what skills each has (or doesn't) and how they eventually begin to trust each other again.

They have many more adventures before the story ends. Life is hard, people are trying to kill them, and they have no food or water. But they keep trying to move back to the compound and the trials and tribulations are authentic.

I enjoyed the action and learned some things about the Middle East. I'd recommend this book for young adults age 12+. The world is a big place, visit a piece of it by reading this book.

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