Perfect for fans of The One and Only Ivan, this exquisite middle grade novel from Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt follows an old camel out to save two baby kestrel chicks during a massive storm in the Texas desert— filled with over a dozen illustrations by Caldecott winner Eric Rohmann.
Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion.
But those stories were from before. Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. But she’s not alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.
Newbery Honoree Appelt's storytelling-interested novel, set in 1910, features an unlikely friendship between an aging camel and a family of American kestrels in the West Texas desert. Zada's joints are achy, but when a massive sandstorm threatens newly hatched chicks Wims and Beulah, the elderly ruminant Auntie rises to the occasion, eager to help the two to safety at the nearby abandoned Mission, a trip that takes on new urgency when a gust blows the kestrel parents off-course. Taking refuge in a mountain lion's lair with the distressed chicks burrowed in her fur, Zada like her namesake Scheherazade seeks to entertain. In a second story thread that alternates with the first, Zada relates her upbringing in Turkey, career as an elite racing camel with best friend Asiye, and unexpected journey to Texas as a gift from the Turkish government to the U.S. Army. In prose that's sometimes playful and frequently sensorial ("Sweet and spicy aromas intertwined with the salty fragrance of the sea"), Appelt's celebration of owning one's history proves both empowering and entertaining. Lush occasional oil paintings by Caldecott Medalist Rohmann bring readers into Zada's world. Ages 8 12. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties.