About the Book:
Title: Once Upon a Camel
Author: Kathi Applelt
Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Pub. Date: September 7, 2021
Beagles and Books is excited to share a review and giveaway for Once Upon a Camel published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon and Schuster. Special thanks to the publisher and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
In the foothills of the Chiso Mountains in West Texas lives an old camel named Zada and a family of American kestrels. Zada is Auntie to Wims and Beulah, two chicks who are barely two weeks old. When a dust storm quickly and violently comes across the canyon, Zada tucks the chicks in her fur, for after all, camels are the ships of the desert. But when a stray dust devil seizes the chicks’ parents, Perlita and Pard, and they go adrift, Zada knows her mission is even more important. She must keep Wims and Beulah safe at all cost until they can be reunited with their parents. Aging and wise Zada travels with her two fledglings to the closest shelter. The only issue is the trio’s refuge is mountain lion Pecos de Leon’s territory, but Zada is certain that it is their best chance.
Once Zada reaches Pecos’ den, she is relieved it is empty. He could come back at anytime; therefore, Zada remains standing and on alert because if she sits down, she might not be able to get back up in time. With two scared chicks in her fur missing their parents, Zada realizes the only way to console Wims and Beulah is to tell them stories about her early days as a racing camel in Turkey, her friendship with fellow camel Asiye, and her voyage to the United States. So once she has OOD (Official Okie Dokie) from the chicks, Zada begins telling her story which gives you ALL the feels-happy, sad, excited, scared, and most importantly, hopeful.
Appelt’s words are pure joy to read, for she writes directly to the reader and her concise text carries a lot of weight and meaning. As I read, I was literally transported to West Texas as well as Turkey and felt I was on the caravan with Zada. Rohmann’s illustrations complement the text showing readers the feelings of the characters. I would highly recommend Once Upon a Camel as a class read aloud, for with short chapters, engaging characters, and an intriguing plot, kids would be captivated by the story begging the teacher to continue reading. What touched my heart the most was Zada’s love for everyone she met in life-Asiye, Perlita, Pard, Wims, Beulah, and many others. Zada was truly the brighest star because of her love, perseverance, and courage. As a reading specialist, I love that Zada reminds us that stories both comfort and save us. And in my opinion, once upon a time… in a land far away… is always a perfect beginning to a story.
About the Author:
Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award Finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist for The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Some of her award-winning books include Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and Max Attacks to name just a few. She lives in College Station, Texas. To learn more, visit her website at kathiappelt.com