Camel Rider

Camel Rider

  • 1595

By: Prue Mason

A story of adventure and two boys from different worlds.

Adam and his family live comfortably in a compound with other foreigners who work in the Middle East. When war breaks out and all foreigners try to escape, Adam runs away in an effort to save his dog. Alone and without resources in the desert, Adam knows he’s in danger. Then he meets Walid, the camel rider.

Walid, abused and on the run from his cruel masters, joins Adam and together they journey across the desert to return to the city and Adam’s home. They must endure the harsh climate and escape the clutches of Walid’s abusers. Together they struggle to bridge wide gulfs between their cultures and languages in order to survive. Ultimately both boys learn about true friendship and the meaning of courage.

Readers are in for an exciting and harrowing adventure, as well as a few laughs, as two boys from different worlds discover that no matter what the culture, friendship speaks the same language.

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Prue Mason, author

Prue Mason grew up in Australia and traveled the world as a flight attendant on a private plane. She spent many years in the Middle East where she started writing, publishing stories for a children's newspaper. Camel Rider is Prue's first book. She lives in Australia.

Read more about Prue.

Awards & Honors:

  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
  • Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
  • ABC Best Books for Children

Editorial Reviews:

Publishers Weekly

This riveting survival tale set in the Arabian Gulf--author Mason's first novel--has two boys from very different cultures trying to find their way out of the desert wilderness. Adam is an Australian boy living with his family in the (fictional) Middle Eastern city of Abudai. Both of his parents are away when war breaks outside his compound. Adam manages to escape with neighbors, but he flees his rescuers, attempting to retrieve his dog. Meanwhile, an Arab boy sold into slavery to become a camel rider has been left to die in the mountains by cruel masters displeased with his rebellious behavior ("Once I had another name. But only in my dreams now I am remembering my life in my home country... Now I answer to Walid, which means only "boy"). THe paths of the two boys inevitably cross: though they do not speak the same language, they learn to rely on each other to find food and shelter and to war off enemies as they travel back to civilation. Some plot details seem scripted, such as when a milking goat suddenly appears as the boys are on the brink of starvation and when Walid's master gets hold of Adam's cell phone and learns there is a reward for the boy's recovery. Nonetheless, teens will stay on the edge of their seats to find out how and when Adam and Walid will reunite with their loved ones.

School Library Journal

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 difference 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 improbably 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 a solid survival adventure.

Kirkus Reviews

First-novelist Mason makes an auspicious debut with this Australian import about two boys from disparate cultures who form a bond under harrowing circumstances. Twelve-year-old Australian Adam, and his parents live in a housing compound for foreigners in a fictional Middle-Eastern country. When war breaks out suddenly, Adam is alone and must evacuate with neighbors. He eludes them in a desperate effort to rescue his dog. Meanwhile, young "camel rider," or jockey, Walid is trussed and left to die in the mountains by his abusive owners. How these two find each other and connect, making their way to safety despite daunting linguistic and cultural barriers and the forbidding desert and deadly heat, makes for a fast-paced, exciting read. The boys' respective dialogue and musings are initially defined by alternately told chapters and changes in fonts. Once they meet, subsequent chapters intersperse these fonts, emphasizing their misunderstanding of each other, sometimes to comical effect. Immediacy is achieved with first-person, present-tense narration. Though the ending is pat and some characters aren't well defined, there's more than enough here to sustain interest and to open readers' eyes to a way of life they'll hardly believe actually exists.

Library Media Connection, starred review

How do two 12-year-old boys survive in an Arabian desert with almost no water or food and no common language? With adventure, pluck, and lots of high-fives! Both boys are expatriates living in the fictional Arab city of Abudai. Adam is from Australia; Walid came from Bangladesh. Walid's mother trusts two Arabs who promise to provide schooling for him, but instead they treat him cruelly and force him to ride camels in races. After the city is bombed, Adam tries to return to Abudai via the desert. Walid was dumped in the desert because he caused the death of a camel. The boys find each other and soon learn to communicate and survive the scorching heat. Over the three-day adventure they are captured by the two Arabs who want to cash in on the ransom Adam's parents have advertised. Once back in the city, the boys make their final escape and are reunited with their families. This new author vividly portrays life as an expatriate in an Arab country, from the privileged side and the immigrant side. This is a powerful story of survival and resourcefulness while discovering a friendship that transcends international boundaries. Highly Recommended.

Book Links

Australian Adam and Bangladeshi Walid find themselves stranded in the desert near the fictional city of Abudai and must join forces to survive without water, food, or a common language. Told from both boys' points of view, Mason's story vividly portrays the enormous lifestyle differences between rich and poor in the Middle East.


ISBN: 978-1-58089-314-5

ISBN: 978-1-58089-315-2

Ages: 10 and up
Page count: 208
5 1/4 x 8

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