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by Prue Mason


School Library Journal:

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 –Kathleen Isaacs (Reviewed July 1, 2007) (School Library Journal, vol 53, issue 7, p106)


  • Children’s Book  Council of Australia: Notable Australian Children’s Books: Younger Readers
  • Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards: Mary Ryan’s Award for a Children’s Book


6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Cultural Differences, Friendship