From Publishers Weekly
Originally published in Cricket magazine, this quiet tale set "far back in time" in Muslim Egypt conveys the lessons of a foreign culture and its enduring religiosity. Salah is distressed because his camel, Quadiim, seems sad. His father tries to reassure him: "Here on earth we poor mortals must live and die knowing only ninety-nine names for Allah, our God, though there are, in truth, one hundred names, and the last one is the most important. But do we walk about dejected, head down, shuffling our feet? No! We work, we eat, we care for each other." And, he concludes, "We pray!" Drawing his own interpretation, Salah fervently bids Allah to let the camel learn the 100th name. The following day, the animal stands proud and tall, a "look of infinite wisdom" on its face. Oppenheim's (Appleblossom) lucid, gentle storytelling conjures up the worshipful atmosphere of Salah's home, even if the exact significance of specific points (like Allah's 100 names) may elude the target audience. Hays's (The Boy Who Loved Morning) paintings, obviously carefully researched, ably suggest a timeless setting. Rendered in acrylics on gessoed linen canvas so that the grain shows through, effectively hazy art captures the spiritual quality of the tale. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3?Set in a Muslim village in Egypt, this tale of friendship and faith is warm and satisfying. Salah lives in a mud-brick house on the banks of the Nile. Contented with his own life, he feels sad because his beloved camel, Qadiim, always seems so solemn and unhappy. Father does not understand the boy's concern for an animal he thinks of as an "...obstinate, stupid, ugly beast," but he comforts his son. He explains that mortals must learn to live knowing only 99 names for Allah, when it is the 100th name that is most important. That night, Salah thinks about his father's words, deciding that Qadiim should be told the 100th name. Outside, beneath the moon, he unrolls his father's prayer rug and makes his first prayer to Allah. In the morning, Qadiim stands tall and proud, wearing a look of "infinite wisdom." Told with sincerity and dignity, this tale skillfully weaves together cultural and religious images. The plot is filled with details of everyday life, and many descriptive phrases are tied to the landscape. With their textures, patterns, and muted color scheme, Hays's handsome acrylic-on-linen illustrations create a strong sense of place. Smaller, more detailed insets sometimes accompany the larger paintings, and the visual story unrolls with the grace and serenity of Father's prayer rug.?Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.