I had the pleasure of reading Darlene’s first novel, Amanda in Arabia, a while back. I fell in love with the main character, Amanda, and her vivacious character. I know you will too! Check out my review, and an excerpt before picking up the novel for you and your favorite ‘tween’ to enjoy!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was an excellent, easy flowing adventure. You meet the very inquisitive Amanda as she begins a journey to the United Arab Emirates and as she learns about this new country, so do you. What I think is so excellent about this book is that it shows a different side to the Muslim culture than most people realize. Unfortunate events in the US have created stereotypes that should and need to be broken–I believe that this is a great book for young and old do to this. It was obvious that the author did plenty of research on the area, yet it was woven skillfully into the book so that it didn’t stand out as unneeded. I can’t wait to see and learn from more of Amanda’s adventures!
Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask
Purchase on Amazon
Mohammed walked in front of them holding the ropes from both camels in his hands.
Amanda was getting used to the movement of the camel beneath her. “Where are we going?”
“Today I will take you out into the desert to see what it is really like here. Our country is made up of 60% desert and most of my people, the Bedu, lived in tents in the desert for many years. They could live for long periods of time without food and water.”
“Kind of like camels, I guess,” said Amanda. “Is it true that camels store water in their humps?”
Mohammed laughed, “No, so many foreign people think that, but it is fat that they store in their humps, as you call them. Camels can go for up to 20 days with out eating food as they can live off that fat.”
“These camels have just one hump. I haven’t seen any two-humped camels since I’ve been here.”
“These are Dromedary camels and they are all you will see in Arabia or in Africa,” said Mohammed. “The two-humped camels are the Bactrian. They are found in Turkey and Mongolia.”
They were leaving the camel ranch behind and were entering an area of sand, rocks and a few wisps of withered, pale-green grass. There was one huge, lonely tree that looked to Amanda like a giant umbrella.
“Why are the lower branches on that tree in a perfect straight line?” Amanda didn’t think that people would be pruning trees out in the desert.
“That is a ghaf tree,” Mohammed glanced in the direction of the lone tree. “It is the camels that nibble the leaves as far as they can reach.”
Umm, ‘so they are the pruners,’ thought Amanda
Mohammed handed Amanda the reins to her camel. The sun’s heat seemed to increase by the minute. She felt hot and sleepy as she looked ahead over the waves of sun burnt sand.
“How are you doing?” she asked Leah who was in front and still led by Mohammed.
“I’m fine,” said Leah. “This camel is very gentle.”
“Yes, you will always be safe with Sheba,” said Mohammed as he turned to see if his passengers were both all right.
Amanda wondered how he knew where they were going as there was no trail that she could see. Then she realized he hadn’t really answered her question. “Where are we going?”
“Oh, just for a little walk across the desert to a special place.” He waved his hand in the direction they were headed. “You will see.”
All Amanda could see was oceans of sand everywhere. The only sound was the slap of the camel’s padded feet on the carpet of sand. She had no idea how long they had been walking in the desert. Soon they were surrounded by honey-coloured hills of sand. They rode up one side and then down the other. The dunes got bigger and bigger. Sometimes the camels would kind of slide down the dune, if it was steep; leaving a deep trench behind them, which quickly filled with sand leaving no trace that they had ever been there.
“Most of Arabia is desert like this,” explained the proud young man once more. “The Bedu lived in tents in the desert and followed their food and water.”
“They lived a hard life. Some say it is much better now,” said Mohammed and after a pause added, “but I am not so sure.”
Amanda wondered, ‘How could living in tents in the desert, not knowing when you will eat or drink next, be better?’
The sand and the heat from the sun mesmerized Amanda and she must have drifted into a light sleep when she was suddenly brought wide awake. Ali Baba’s head jerked up, he gave a loud roar and started to run. Amanda leaned over his neck and hung on as tight as she could.
He ran past Leah and Sheba. He ran past Mohammed who dropped Sheba’s reins and started to run after him shouting in Arabic. Ali Baba just kept running. In fact he galloped and Amanda felt that her body was being jerked every which way.
“Whoa!” cried Amanda as she hung on for dear life.
She wasn’t sure if camels knew that word but it was the only one she could think of. It didn’t work. The runaway camel didn’t slow down a bit. In fact he went faster and soon left Mohammed behind in a cloud of sand dust. Amanda looked behind her. Her friends were two specks in a sea of whirling sand.
“Where do you think you’re going, you crazy camel?” she shouted.
She thought she could see something green in the distance, but then it was gone. The sand and the sun were playing tricks on her. She had heard about mirages in the desert. She was starting to feel dizzy and she didn’t think she could hold on much longer. ‘Oh Ali Baba, what are you doing? I thought you were my friend.’
That was her last thought before everything went black.
Darlene Foster is a writer of children’s stories, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, reading, shoes, cooking, music, chocolate, walking on the beach and making new friends. Her grandson calls her “super-mega-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She lives on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada with her husband Paul and their black cat Monkey. Darlene has always had a desire to write and has won awards for her short stories. She has published a series of travel-adventure books for middle readers, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting and Amanda in England – The Missing Novel. Readers from seven to seventy enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another.
Ebook – Amanda in Alberta
(My favorite TV show takes place in Alberta, CAN–and is filmed in the area! So this is def. going to be an AWESOME book!)