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The Camel in the Sunby Griffin Ondaatje
Synopses & Reviews
Inspired by a retelling of a traditional Muslim hadith, or account of the words or actions of the Prophet, which the author first heard in Sri Lanka, this is the story of a camel whose cruel owner only realizes what suffering he has caused when the Prophet appears and shows love to the animal.
The camel has worked its entire life for a man called Halim, carrying bundles of spices, dates, incense, silver and wool on long journeys across the desert east of the Red Sea. It often has to climb steep dunes, run when it is exhausted, and wait in the hot sun while Halim sits in the shade talking to the other merchants. One day the camel is overwhelmed by sadness and finds itself in tears. But still Halim shows no sympathy.
When they arrive in the beautiful garden-filled city of Medina, where the Prophet lives, the merchant refreshes himself with food and drink and then naps on a pillow of sand, once again leaving the tired camel to stand alone in the burning sun. But when the Prophet sees the camels plight, everything changes. Halim finally empathizes with the camels pain and suffering.
The Camel in the Sun was inspired by a Muslim story told to the author when he was in Sri Lanka. That story was a retelling of a hadith, and this book was respectfully inspired by both the retelling and a translation of the hadith itself. It is an unforgettable story about empathizing with another. It is beautifully, respectfully and sensitively illustrated by Linda Wolfsgruber, whose images and earthy palette reflect her time spent in the Middle East.
"Ondaatje (The Monkey King and Other Stories) tells a tale inspired by a hadith (a story about the Prophet Muhammad passed on orally) in which a long-suffering camel and its cruel owner find their hearts and lives changed by a meeting with the Prophet. Alternating between the two characters' viewpoints, Ondaatje narrates with graceful lyricism: one scene contrasts the labor of the camel with the behavior of its unsympathetic rider, who sits on the animal 'as if he were floating over the desert on a bundle of valuable goods under which there was no camel.' Wolfsgruber's (Brunhilda and the Ring) illustrations — monoprints with drawing — convey a parched desert environment using dusky hues of rust, olive, and brown; green and red palm trees beautify the rounded doorways of Medina. In one poignant scene, camel and rider appear in silhouette against shades of greenish-brown sand and beige sky, with startling white drops falling from the camel's eyes. The Prophet's presence nudges the man into a dream in which he experiences the camel's distress. Compassion follows. A tender story, eloquently rendered. Ages 5 — up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Griffin Ondaatje is a writer and documentary filmmaker. He edited The Monkey King and Other Stories, a collection of South Asian tales. He directed Complete Unknown, a documentary feature film on Bob Dylan, and worked as a producer for CBC's Documentary Unit. His next book is a childrens novel entitled The Mosquito Brothers. He has three children and lives in Toronto with his family.
Linda Wolfsgruber is a world-renowned artist who has exhibited her work throughout Europe and in the United States and Japan. She has won many awards, including the Austrian Childrens and Juvenile Book Award for Illustration (four times) and the Golden Apple of the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava, and she has been nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. Her striking illustrations appear in many books, including Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer, Stories from the Life of Jesus, Brunhilda and the Ring and A daisy is a daisy is a daisy. She lives in Vienna.
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