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Azad's Camel Hardcover – May 25, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3–Just outside a city somewhere in Arabia, an orphan boy innocently displays his balancing skill to his friends. As it happens, a wealthy sheikh sees Azad and arranges with his uncle to have the boy trained as a camel rider. Azad is taken to a camp in the desert where he works with many other children. Camel racing is frightening, and although he hates it, Azad is good at it and is forced to race often. A glimmer of hope appears one night when Asfur, his camel, speaks to him and suggests a plan to make their next race the last. They don't stop at the finish line, but run until they find themselves alone in the desert. The next morning, some Bedouins discover them and offer them a safe home. Rendered in watercolor and ink, the illustrations aptly depict the action, but the text lacks a readable flow and believable dialogue. A note about camel racing provides information about child smuggling and this dangerous sport, making this book a serviceable title about an important and underexposed topic.Heather Acerro, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In an Arabian city, a rich sheikh buys an athletic little orphan boy, Azad, and forces him to work as a camel jockey. Azad hates the dangerous work, and he is frightened by the shouting crowds at the racetrack and by the camels blazing speed. Then his camel, Asfur, begins to talk to him, and they plan an escape: after they cross the finish line, they keep running, all the way through the city until at last they reach the desert and find a home with a loving Bedouin community. The uncluttered double-page spreads in watercolor and ink show the bond between the boy and camel, first in the modern city streets with limousines and skyscrapers, and then in the wide-open desert under the endless sky. A final note talks about the smuggling of children who are forced to race camels today. Young people will be moved by the fast action and the shocking cruelty as well as the touching drama of the brave young athlete’s strong connection with his camel. Grades 1-3. --Hazel Rochman
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 450L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Bks (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845079825
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845079826
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 11.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,994,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Azad was an orphan who lived with his uncle in the city. His job was to take care of a goat and make tea for his uncle and his friends. It was a carefree life and his smiling face and athletic talent drew friends to him. He had lots of fun with his friends and he would entertain them by doing "handstands on the goalpost." They would smile and laugh as he balanced on the post. One day a "rich sheikh," who leaned out the window of his chauffeured car was mesmerized by the sight of such an athletically talented boy and decided to approach Azad's Uncle.

"Let me take the boy. I will train him to be a camel rider. One day he'll be famous." Azad's uncle was not a rich man and decided to let the sheikh take him. He soon found himself sleeping in a tent with several other boys. The sheikh warned him not to listen to "strange stories about talking camels and wandering people." It wasn't long before he found himself at the receiving end of a lash. He tried to convince the man that he could not ride, but in spite of his fear, he didn't land on the ground. Azad soon found himself racing a camel and was "frightened by the camels' blazing speed, and deafened by their thundering hooves and the shouts of the crowd." Later that night the camel began to speak to him. Were the two of them going to be able to escape the madness of the camel races? How would they be able to escape when everyone was watching them?

This is a heartwarming story of a young camel jockey who was able to escape the clutches of the evil racers. This tale, without the magical elements, is loosely based on the real life practice of taking away young boys to be trained as camel jockeys.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really was not quite sure how to rate this book. I like it very much, but I'm not sure that I can rate it quite as highly for kids. It is, in essence, a scary story.
I have a granddaughter who won't watch Toy Story because it is scary. How would she react to a story about a boy who was essentially in first a sad situation (his parents were
dead) and then in an abusive one, even if on the last page he is rescued and "lives happily ever after." And I don't mean the evil step mother sort of sad story, I mean the real thing.

I bought the book because of the illustrations. They are great. I "read" the book to my 2 year old grandson, pretty much changing the entire story. He followed the pictures
carefully, often making comments. On one page he pointed to the goat and said "he crying, he crying." Well, we wasn't really crying but the anxiety on his face and in his demeanor
was clear. The boy was being taken away after his uncle sold him to some creep. It did not say so in the story itself, but it wasn't too hard
to figure out and it was verified in the notes after the book. He joins a collection of other boys in a similar situation. Another creep tells the boy not to believe everything
his hears. A third creep sends him out to learn the dangerous sport of camel racing while carrying a whip.

My grandson thought the camels were neat and the motorcycle even neater He was also curious about the other animals which were unrecognizable to him. As I said, the ending
was a happy one, and I really thought that the story is an important one to learn. I found the burqas offensive, but I realize that it hard to write a story about Arabs without
them. It is hard to explain to a 2 year old, however - or any kid.
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By Amazon Customer on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I agree with a previous reviewer that this is a dark story, based as it is on real life in parts of the world.
But, as with the oldest and best stories, good triumphs and the young hero ends up with a wider loving family, and the 'baddie' gets his come-uppance.
Erika has researched it well; I was captivated by the story, and especially by her beautiful dynamic illustrations which portray to a nicety the hot desert environment, with her use of lovely warm terracotta and ochre colours. I loved the expressive features of the characters. Our two little grand-daughters (6 and nearly 4) were totally absorbed by the story and the illustrations - we discussed each page, whether the characters were happy or sad etc.
I think it is good that the basis of the story is explained at the end of the book - the wider world needs to know this.
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