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Camel In The Sun by Griffin Ondaatje

Inspired by a retelling of a traditional Muslim hadith, or account of the words or actions of the Prophet, which the author first heard in Sri Lanka, this is the story of a camel whose cruel owner only realizes what suffering he has caused when the Prophet appears and shows love to the animal.

The camel has worked its entire life for a man called Halim, carrying bundles of spices, dates, incense, silver and wool on long journeys across the desert, east of the Red Sea. It often has to climb steep dunes, run when it is exhausted, and wait in the hot sun while Halim sits in the shade talking to the other merchants. One day the camel is overwhelmed by sadness and finds itself in tears. But still Halim shows no sympathy.

When they arrive in the beautiful garden-filled city of Medina where the Prophet lives, the merchant refreshes himself with food and drink and then naps on a pillow of sand, once again leaving the tired camel to stand alone in the burning sun. But when the Prophet sees the camel's plight, everything changes. Halim finally empathizes with the camel's pain and suffering.

The Camel in the Sun was inspired by a Muslim story told to the author when he was in Sri Lanka. That story was a retelling of a hadith, and this book was respectfully inspired by both the retelling and a translation of the hadith itself. It is an unforgettable story about empathy. It is beautifully, respectfully and sensitively illustrated by Linda Wolfsgruber, whose images and earthy palette reflect her time spent in the Middle East.