Staff Pick Badge
Once Upon a Camel By Kathi Appelt, Eric Rohmann (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Kathi Appelt, Eric Rohmann (Illustrator)
NOT IN STOCK - Usually arrives in 7 - 14 business days

Staff Reviews

Zada is an old camel with so many stories to tell of her early life in Turkey and her many travels which have landed her roaming the plains of West Texas. She is now on the biggest adventure of her life as she is caught in the middle of a terrible dust storm. Her dear friends, a pair of kestral birds who once saved her life, have been caught up in the storm and separated from their babies so it is up to Zada to protect the young chicks and find their parents. This book is absolutely enchanting and reminds us that we can all brave enough to protect that which we love.

— From Lisa's Kids Book Recommendations


“A delight to the senses.” —Kirkus Reviews

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 a creaky 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. She’s not, however, 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.

About the Author

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man SwampMaybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max Attacks. She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband. Visit her at

Eric Rohmann is the Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator of My Friend Rabbit and received a Caldecott Honor for Time Flies. He has both written and illustrated numerous books for children, including Bulldozer’s Big Day, Honeybee, and Bulldozer’s Christmas Dig, all written by Candace Fleming. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Find out more at

Praise For…

"Hearts will grow fond of this wise old camel; she is a bright star."
— Kirkus Reviews

"An unconventional ode to the beauty of found families and the power in our stories."
— Booklist STARRED Review

"Appelt’s celebration of owning one’s history proves both empowering and entertaining."
— Publisher Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9781534406438
ISBN-10: 1534406433
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication Date: September 7th, 2021
Pages: 336
Language: English