Thursday, October 24, 2013


by Lawrence McKay Jr.
illustrated by Darryl Ligasan

Set in the backdrop of the Palmirs in the Hindu Khush region, the story is about the nomads of the Afghan Kirghiz area - in particular, about one ten year old boy, Jura, who takes his first caravan trip with his father.

Jura does not go to traditional schools like city kids do. Jura does not go to the corner grocery store to get food. Jura lives in a remote area that can be harsh geographically and weather-wise.

Twice a year, the Kirghiz Caravaneers take the 125 mile trip over icy mountain passes and frozen rivers to trade their furs and felts for grain. Each person brings his own horse for transportation and is also in-charge of three bactrian camels loaded with their goods for trading. They camp in makeshift yurts at nights and continue their journey by day.

Jura carefully prepares for the trip- he watches what his father does and tries to do the same. Along the way, he stays alert and eager to learn the route and the tricks of navigating this tough terrain; at the same time, he is awed by the beauty and the vastness he encounters.

The repeated refrain
". . .in the Caravan swaying back and forth, 
where the mountains meet the sky, 
and the trail leads ever on." 
makes it a fun read-aloud, with the children joining in as they experience it with Jura.

Unfamiliar words - like chogun, samovar, kilim, yurt -  are explained at the back of the book, along with information about the region and the people. A map at the beginning of the book gives a clear picture of the area nicknamed "Roof of the World" owing to the majestic and tall mountains ranges - viz., the Karakoram, Himalayas and Hindi-Khush. We also learn that, unlike the dromedary (one-humped) camels that are the ships of the desert, these hardy bactrian (two-humped) camels can withstand the bitter cold weather at high altitudes of the Central Asian Plateau, and carry enormous loads over long distance at their slow and steady pace.


ranjani.sathish said...

Sheela, this book reminds me of another book - Caravan to Tibet, by Deepa Agarwal(Puffin publication). Very similar I think(since I have not read it fully, I cannot be too sure) and for slightly older kids. These two books might be perfect together !

sandhya said...

Great review, Sheela. And I agree with Ranjani above.

Praba Ram said...

Very unique in appeal. Love such stories, which open up a different part of the world to our children. We learn in the process also. Wish I could lay my hands on it. Thanks, Sheela!

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