Some days you read book after book and you yearn, yes you yearn for a character who will make its/his/her/their all the way into your heart. It's like there is a place there that hasn't been filled up for a while. You yearn for a story that you will care about and you yearn for heroes and big hearts.
Yes, my readeroos, this is that story. (When you read the story you will understand why I say readeroos.)
We begin in the foothills of the mountains in West Texas way back in 1910. It's a hot and dusty day and Zada, a camel, is keeping her patience with an American kestrel named Perlita who has something very important to tell her. After many - we are talking thousands - of puffs and pauses she finally chirps it out - she has found camels....more camels. Amazing..camels in the foothills of Texas in 1910.
This is where the wind comes in. It's a haboob and it is raising a cloud of dirt and dust that is so high it looks like mountains are on the march and they are headed to Zada and Perlita and Perlita's chicks, Beulah and Wims. You would expect that Perlita would know what to do to protect her chicks in a moment like this but she and her mate, Pard, don't get the chance. The two parent birds are swept upward into the wind and the swirl. It's up to Zada to save the babies.
So begins a journey. It's the journey of a camel and the two American kestrel chicks who are tucked in to the tufts of fur on top of Zada's head. They will have to outrun the wind and the dust. They will need to outwit the mountain lion and Zada will need to figure out how to keep Beulah and Wims safe and happy in the middle of it all.
How can a camel take care of baby birds you ask? Zada has a magical power. She is a wonderful storyteller and just like the legendary Scheherazade who told her thousand and one tales centuries ago, Zada will tell her stories and those stories will take us all on another journey far, far from Texas.
Guided on our trek by a narrator who understands us and knows just how to keep us informed and enlightened, we will meet Asiye, a wondrous being who spent time on this Earth as a camel. We will meet Teodor who knew how to be gentle and how to love camels. We will meet the mountain lion and the fluffy balls of feathers, Beulah and Wims.
The grandest adventure. The greatest of hearts. A touch of history that none of us ever read before. It's got everything. Sublime is the world. Best part is you can almost hear Kathi Appelt laughing as she carries us forward. Joy reigns supreme here. It's one you will read and then re-read.
336 pages 978-1534406438 Ages 8-12
Keywords: adventure, 1800s, 1900s, 19th century, 20th century, camels, storms, love, loyalty, friendship, perseverance, birds, storytelling, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, If You Liked The One and Only Ivan, If You Like Kate DiCamillo
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Perfect for fans of The One and Only Ivan, this exquisite middle grade novel from Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt follows an old camel out to save two baby kestrel chicks during a massive storm in the Texas desert— filled with over a dozen illustrations by Caldecott winner Eric Rohmann.
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.---from the publisher