Exiled: Memoirs of a Camel by Kathleen Karr

Exiled: Memoirs of a Camel by Kathleen Karr tells a little bit of the story of the Camel Corps from a unique point of view: a camel named Ali. I never knew that the US Army brought two loads of camel to the US in the 1850s. They were trained in Texas (which, honestly, is what caught my attention when reading the synopsis) and then taken to California where they helped build roads and run mail to areas not easily accessible by other animals. Mostly, though, the experiment failed and was ended with the outbreak of the Civil War. Some camels were sold to circuses and private owners. Some escaped. Some were set free (and feral camels were spotted in the southwest for several decades after).

Exiled follows Ali from the time he is a baby in Egypt through being sold at a market and then later transferred to another owner and eventually purchased by “Major-Sir” and taken to the United States. The story continues through his life of work in the camel corps and, finally, what happens to him after the experiment is disbanded. At times it is funny, at times it is sad, and at times it is touching. It is always interesting, and, even though it is aimed at kids in the middle grades, it easily kept my attention. The only oddity is Ali is very much a Muslim camel, and a rather religious one at that. His words for some things (Texas-America, Infidels) are based solely on what he hears humans that he trusts say.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Book Number: 1
Pages Read: 240
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades

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