Muktar and the Camels by Janet Graber, illustrated by Scott Mack
Muktar lives in a Somalian orphanage after his parents have died. His parents had roamed Somalia with camels before the drought and war changed everything. Now all Muktar has of his old life is a withered root that his father gave him and told him to use wisely. Then one day, a man arrives with three camels loaded with books. Muktar is asked to help unload the camels and as he does, he notices a wound on the foot of one camel. The librarian is too busy to listen to his concerns, so Muktar creates a poultice with the root his father gave him. By the time the librarian discovers the problem, the camel’s foot is better and Muktar has impressed him enough to offer him a job with the camels.
This book is based on the library service of the Kenya National Library Service which has camel convoys of books eight times a month that serve schools and orphanages in the outlying areas. Muktar and his love of animals shines in this book. His skill with camels is impressive as is his strength in the face of such overwhelming change in his life. Graber’s text tells the story plainly, not dwelling too long on the loss but more on the present. Mack’s illustrations, done in oils on canvas, show a land dried and hardened, but people who are surviving despite the obstacles.
Recommended as a window to another way of living, this book is appropriate for ages 6-9.
Reviewed from copy received from publisher.