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CAMEL RIDER

Author: Prue Mason

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Publisher: Charlesbridge, ©2009

Material: paperback

Summary: It is almost time for morning prayers. While everyone gets ready to pray, Adam and Walid are planning their escapes. Adam, an Australian left unsupervised in the compound where foreigners live, is sneaking out to go surfing. Walid, a Bangladeshi camel boy/slave, wants to be free of his abusers. Fate brings the boys together in the middle of the desert, with little food, no water, and nothing in common except mistrust. Will they die in the desert or make it back to Abudai? This is a middle-grade story about two boys of different cultures and languages.

Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, middle grade reader, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 9 and up; read yourself: 12 and up

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 7

Age of Child: Reviewed by a student at North Junior High School, St. Cloud, MN, as part of the Use Your ABCs program.

Young Reader Reaction: I picked this book because the cover looked interesting. It turned out to be interesting and very original. I liked the story with the first chapter and knew I would like it. This is a nicely sized book, too. It kept my attention.

Adult Reader Reaction: Outstanding. By allowing Adam and Walid to tell their stories, we have a richer sense of each boy's perspective. The contrasts of their lives are immediately evident, but the author quickly redirects your attention to their individual histories and the adventures they face together.

Pros: Everyone can enjoy this page turner about two boys who must bridge cultural and language barriers to survive life in the desert.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a story worth reading. Reluctant readers will find the fast pace attractive; and remedial readers will be drawn in by the story's complexity.
Student reviewer: I'd borrow this book. It is a good book, but I wouldn't consider it a classic.

If You Liked This Book, Try: THE NOT-SO-STAR-SPANGLED LIFE OF SUNITA SEN   TWO WORLDS   NIGHT OF THE RED MOON

Educational Themes: The story offers multicultural themes that are relevant to today's youth. Some of the issues that can be explored beyond the story itself are parental death/grief, camel racing, Islamic tradition, and Middle Eastern and Asian culture (Walid was sold to the slave traders to earn money for his family). The communication barriers between Adam and Walid should generate lots of interesting discussion.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 7.0; Guided Reading Level W
Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year (2007); NCSS-CBC Notable SOcial Studies Trade Book for Young People

Literary Categories: Fiction - Culture and society, Australia, Persian Gulf, young adult

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2009, November 2009

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