ONCE UPON A CAMEL
by Kathi Appelt
Categories: Middle Grade Fiction / Historical / Friendship / Ages 8-12
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Pub Date: September 7, 2021
Pages: 336 pages
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Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion. But those stories were from before.
Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. But she’s not alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.
Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt was purely a magical and spectacular read! We dive into the world of Zada, a camel from Smyrna, Turkey, and two young American kestrels named Perdita and Pard. This fable come to life is a tale of friendship and a journey based on real life events from the 1800’s when the US brought camels into Texas to transport supplies for the military.
This was honestly the first I ever heard about the US bringing camels into Texas. I’m not a native to Texas and not as familiar with Texas history, but this tid bit of fact fascinated me. I think it’s fun and clever to base a work of fiction off of this historical fact!
Zada, who is lonely and missing her friends from Turkey, encounters a sandstorm that blows in. The kestrels are worried about their babies and Zada, courageous as ever, swoops in to help them. When the sand storm sweeps the kestrels away, Zada is left to take care of the little ones, and in so doing we learn about Zada’s life story.
Zada is a gentle soul, and hearing her life story unfold was woven with imagery and a voice you can get lost in.
Though this story is geared towards children, it’s easily enjoyable to read as an adult! And one I definitely recommend. This was exactly the kind of weekend read I needed! A purely enjoyable story!
Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Mogie, the Heart of the House. She lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and five gifted and talented cats.
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Three signed copies of the book.
(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 10/9/21)
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