Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lost Riders by Elizabeth Laird

Elizabeth Laird is an author like Deborah Ellis. She writes about children around the world. These types of books can be a challenge to read because they are dealing with issues that are so unfamiliar to us.
Lost Riders tells the story of young children who were taken from their homes in Pakistan (and Bangladesh, India, Sudan and the Yemen), brought to the Gulf and forced to train, ride and race camels for the wealthy sheikhs. But really, the story is about one 8 year old boy Rashid and his 5 year old brother Shari who are living in poverty with their mother and sister since their father died. When their uncle Bilal comes and tells them about the wealthy families in Dubai who are looking for children to play with their own children. Bilal tells the boys mother about the money they will make and the life they will lead if they are allowed to go. Part of Rashid wants to go- to eat, sleep and play with a wealthy little boy, but another part doesn't want to leave his home and his family.
Finally, uncle Bilal convinces the mother that this is an excellent opportunity for the young boys. What looks good on the outside is in reality the opposite. The boys are taken on a long journey to Dubai where they are separated and forced to work with camels under terrible conditions.
Rashid learns to live without food, sleep and how to train the camels in order to please his new owners, yet all the time he longs for home and worries about his younger brother.
I found this story challenging to get into. All the different names were difficult to keep track of. However, Laird is able to spin a wonderful story, while telling of a terrible time in the history of child trafficking. I think kids reading this book will have their eyes opened to the way children are treated in other parts of the world.
It might make for a good read aloud, depending on the group of students and if you can connect it to something else you are studying. Otherwise, I would use it as Literature Circles for sure.

1 comment:

  1. hi kerry - this looks like an intriguing story. i say that while at the same time thinking of the reality of this for the children involved and for those who are enduring this as i write. it astonishes me that these things have happened throughout history as a matter of course, so thank goodness that the generation coming through has a greater awareness through literature of the realities of this world and then perhaps something can begin to be done about it.