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Camel Rider
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War has broken out in the Middle East and all foreigners are fleeing. Instead of escaping with his neighbors, Adam sneaks off to save his dog, which has been left behind. Lost in the desert, Adam meets Walid, an abused camel boy who is on the run. Together they struggle to survive the elements and elude the revengeful master from whom Walid has fled. Cultural and language barriers are wide, but with ingenuity and determination the two boys bridge their differences, helping each other to survive and learn what true friendship is.

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Gr 6-8-In the midst of a short war in a country on the Arab peninsula, 12-year-old Adam, an Australian expatriate who does not want to return home, and Walid, a camel rider from Bangladesh, manage to elude Walid's former employers and survive in the harsh desert, although they lack a common language or culture. Adam's mother has gone home to Australia, and the boy is to follow the next day when his dad, a pilot, arrives from a trip. When the bombs begin to fall, he runs away from neighbors who attempt to take him across the border to safety. Walid, who had been sold by his mother, who hoped for something better for him, was left tied up in the mountains after accidentally causing the death of a camel. The alternating first-person voices, set off typographically, reveal the depth of the boys' cultural differences and their growing ability to communicate, understand, and respect one another. The harshness of the desert is clear, as is Adam's ignorance and unpreparedness. Readers who may first identify with the fun-loving Adam will come to appreciate Walid's skills and determination, and may learn something about Muslim ways in the process. The suspense is sustained and the wildly improbable happy ending is very satisfying. Some readers may not appreciate the number of times "acting like a girl" is a derogatory phrase, but this is solid survival adventure.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

This riveting survival tale set in the Arabian Gulf-author Mason's first novel-has two boys from very different cultures trying to find their way out of the desert wilderness. Adam is an Australian boy living with his family in the (fictional) Middle Eastern city of Abudai. Both of his parents are away when war breaks outside his compound. Adam manages to escape with neighbors, but he flees his rescuers, attempting to retrieve his dog. Meanwhile, an Arab boy sold into slavery to become a camel rider has been left to die in the mountains by cruel masters displeased with his rebellious behavior ("Once I had another name. But only in my dreams now I am remembering my life in my home country.... Now I answer to Walid, which means only `boy' "). The paths of the two boys inevitably cross: though they do not speak the same language, they learn to rely on each other to find food and shelter and to ward off enemies as they travel back to civilization. Some plot details seem scripted, such as when a milking goat suddenly appears as the boys are on the brink of starvation and when Walid's master gets hold of Adam's cell phone and learns there is a reward for the boy's recovery. Nonetheless, teens will stay on the edge of their seats to find out how and when Adam and Walid will reunite with their loved ones. Ages 10-14. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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