In a big Arabian city, an orphan boy is forced to work as a camel jockey - a dangerous job he doesn't like. But a new friendship and a magical escape into the desert are about to change his life... Camel racing is a popular sport in the Gulf states. Child jockeys are used to ride the camels and come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Mauritania and Eritrea. Often poor families are persuaded to sell sons as young as five years old, who are taken away to be trained and often badly treated. Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates have banned the use of child jockeys and are returning the children to their families so that they can live a normal life. Robots are now being used in place of jockeys in the United Arab Emirates, but in some Middle Eastern countries small children are still being forced to race camels. "The pictures are beautiful - really evocative." Elizabeth Laird, prize-winning author of Crusade, The Garbage King and Lost Riders (also about a camel jockey)
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ERIKA PAL was born in Budapest. She worked in an animation film studio, before relocating to the UK with a dream of becoming a freelance illustrator. During her Animation and Illustration degree at London's Kingston University, she was twice highly commended for the Macmillan Prize, and won the national competition for Booktrust's Big Picture logo. After graduation, her first picture book, Azad's Camel was published by Frances Lincoln, followed by I See the Moon and Little Lion. Erika currently lives in London and her other interests are printmaking and experimental animation.From School Library Journal:
K-Gr 3–Just outside a city somewhere in Arabia, an orphan boy innocently displays his balancing skill to his friends. As it happens, a wealthy sheikh sees Azad and arranges with his uncle to have the boy trained as a camel rider. Azad is taken to a camp in the desert where he works with many other children. Camel racing is frightening, and although he hates it, Azad is good at it and is forced to race often. A glimmer of hope appears one night when Asfur, his camel, speaks to him and suggests a plan to make their next race the last. They don't stop at the finish line, but run until they find themselves alone in the desert. The next morning, some Bedouins discover them and offer them a safe home. Rendered in watercolor and ink, the illustrations aptly depict the action, but the text lacks a readable flow and believable dialogue. A note about camel racing provides information about child smuggling and this dangerous sport, making this book a serviceable title about an important and underexposed topic.Heather Acerro, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN
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