52 Days by Camel: My Sahara Adventure
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52 Days by Camel: My Sahara Adventure

by Lawrie Raskin, Debora Pearson

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Share the adventure of a lifetime in this revised edition of a multiple-award-winning title.

"Fascinating information.., an attractive choice for libraries..."
- Booklist (on the original edition)

A lifelong fascination with the desert led Lawrie Raskin to undertake a remarkable trek across the Sahara to the


Share the adventure of a lifetime in this revised edition of a multiple-award-winning title.

"Fascinating information.., an attractive choice for libraries..."
- Booklist (on the original edition)

A lifelong fascination with the desert led Lawrie Raskin to undertake a remarkable trek across the Sahara to the fabled city of Timbuktu. Together with author Debora Pearson, he chronicles his journey to the ancient city -- and beyond.

Readers will discover first-hand what it's like to travel over vast seas of orange sand. They'll experience the nasty smell of a camel's breath, learn how to bargain in an African market and read about the roles women play in Moslem societies.

Raskin's evocative photographs, including scenes of modern-day life, reflect the many faces of Africa. His enthusiasm and wit shine through as he invites readers to share in his extraordinary adventures and eye-opening discoveries.

This revised edition features new text and photographs showcasing how contemporary Africa, from cell phones to skyscrapers, lives alongside the ancient among the sands of the Sahara.

The next best thing to being there, 52 Days by Camel is a stunning introduction to the fascinating culture and breathtaking landscapes of the Sahara desert.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Parents' Paper
This nonfiction memoir will fascinate all armchair travelers as they journey with the author on his real-life trek.
Canadian Materials Vol SV No 8 - Val Ken Lem
Junior readers will enjoy this true-life travel adventure that is told in a somewhat informal style... Raskin is a filmmaker and photographer who recounts his journey to fulfill his dreams of visiting the Sahara Desert and seeing the fabled city of Timbuktu and the ancient salt mines of Taoudenni.... Colour map illustrations show Raskin's routes and include annotations highlighting landmarks and events described in the narrative... Many sidebars provide additional factual information about many aspects of civilization in North Africa... This edition has eliminated a page about life on a caravan (a way of life that verges on extinction) but added a brief list of English words that are derived from Arabic, a substantial index, and up-to-date lists of books and websites for further reading. Some of the websites include engaging video and audio clips. The index and reading list will make this book more useful for research projects, but the travel tale and colourful photographs will also make for delightful recreational reading.
Canadian Teacher
This account of the author's travels in North Africa is fascinating reading and is illustrated by many striking photographs that help to make the area come alive in the reader's mind. Lawrie Raskin's enthusiasm for seeing the Sahara first hand is infectious, and one can't help but be caught up in his excitement at actually visiting such exotic and remote locations as Timbuktu. (Although, he is reminded that his impressions are relative when he is taking photographs in Timbuktu and is asked, "What are you doing?" by a resident. He replies, "Oh, taking pictures of mysterious Timbuktu." The questioner comments, "Timbuktu is not mysterious. It is you who is mysterious!") The colourful presentation of information, easy writing style, and intrigue of a culture so different from our own make 52 Days by Camel a great recreational read as well as a resource for assigned study of the land and people of North Africa.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In conversational and occasionally digressive prose, Raskin, a seasoned desert explorer, with Pearson recounts his first visit to the Sahara. The book's title refers not to the duration of Raskin's actual journey but to a road sign listing the distance to Timbuktu as 52 days away, assuming one was traveling by camel. Taking in destinations as remote as the salt mines of Taoudenni, the labyrinthine tripby van, camel, bus, truck, train, boat and jeepis at times slow-going. In addition to the nuts and bolts of the journey, readers sift through tangential details to find diverting anecdotes and notable facts about the area's history and the customs of its residents. Informally annotated maps track Raskin's progress, and sidebars provide some entertaining information, such as tips for climbing onto a camel, various uses for a turban in the desert and for haggling with African shopkeepers. As a photographer Raskin shines (unfortunately, the gutter swallows some pictures). His images are illuminating and occasionally funny: to advertise his popularity, a Marrakesh dentist plants himself in the middle of the town square and proudly displays all the teeth he has pulled; and a man rides in the rear half of an old car being pulled by a donkey. Shots such as these will enliven the long desert crossing for many readers. Ages 8-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Judy Katsh
The lost city of Timbuktu beckons to world traveler Lawrie Raskin. This book is a tribute to his search for the lost city as well as the majestic Saharan setting that he explored along the way. As in most journeys, the journey to Timbuktu was at least as interesting and as memorable as the destination. Highly readable, this book describes the author's trip-the people, places, and events he encountered along the circuitous route that led him, finally, by camel caravan to the city of his destination. Readers who accompany Mr. Raskin on his journey will be treated to such sights as Saharan beach parties, such tastes as sugary Moroccan mint tea, and such experiences as a desert wind and rainstorm. Students will learn more about Saharan Africa and its history and people by reading this entertaining book (sorry, no index) than they would in any number of textbook treatments of the subject.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-An engaging account of an expedition around the western Sahara in the company of an enthusiastic documentor of a varied habitat and its even more varied inhabitants. Chancing upon a road sign decorated with an illustration of a camel caravan and reading (in Arabic and French) "Timbuktu 52 Days," Raskin determined to get there and "see it, smell it, explore it." As the old route is not feasible (no more camel caravans and a plethora of left-behind land mines), he set out from Fez on a series of excursions riding buses, jeeps, trucks, a train, and a camel. Arriving in Timbuktu at last, he continued on to Taoudenni, the source of desert salt reputed to have both medicinal and magical properties. Intermixed with Raskin's lively, if scattershot, narrative are sidebars full of fascinating information: how to bargain in an African market, 10 ways to use a turban (besides wearing it as a hat), how to recycle a bike, etc. Maps accompany each leg of the journey, and the route dots are color-coordinated with dots on the page numbers to keep readers in step with the author. Clear, bright, full-color photos abound. This title's true worth is as a record of one curious individual's pilgrimage off the beaten path, a record that may speak on a deeply personal note to like-minded young readers.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
The Boston Parents' Paper
This nonfiction memoir will fascinate all armchair travelers as they journey with the author on his real-life trek.

Product Details

Annick Press, Limited
Publication date:
Adventure Travel Series
Edition description:
Revised edition
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


How I Became a Desert Explorer

Ever since I was a kid growing up in Toronto, I wanted to see the desert. I'm an adult now, but I can still remember the first time I thought about taking a desert adventure. I had read a comic book in which Donald Duck and his nephews went to the Sahara, rode camels over sand dunes, and visited an oasis. I was so fascinated with this story that I read that comic over and over until it fell apart!

Later on, when I was a teenager, I saw a movie that made me want to go to the desert even more. The movie was Lawrence of Arabia, and I couldn't get enough of the scenes that were shot in the actual desert. I saw Lawrence of Arabia again and again, and it had the same effect on me as reading the comic book had years before, only stronger. I absolutely had to see a desert for myself. And so, several years later, I traveled to Africa to see the Sahara, the world's largest desert.

Some people who go to a place for the first time have a feeling that they've been there before. For me, that place is the Sahara. On my first trip there I felt like I belonged, almost like I had returned to my real home. I wanted to explore everything there, from the things that seemed strangely familiar to the things that seemed just plain strange.

Since my first trip there, I've explored the Sahara many more times. Going "home" all those times has changed my life and turned me into a desert expert. I've learned how to speak Arabic, lived with desert peoples, and organized many expeditions through the Sahara. I've discovered lots about life in the desert, but there will always be much more for me to learn -- that's why I'll keep going back as often as I can. On each trip, I get excited all over again!

Exploring the desert has been -- and is -- the best adventure of my life. I hope that as you take this trip with me you'll feel some of the excitement I've felt. And who knows? Perhaps you'll start to think about some great adventures you can take, too!

Lawrie Raskin

Meet the Author

Lawrie Raskin spent three years living with the nomads of the Sahara. He became fluent in Arabic, filmed TV documentaries, worked as an expedition guide and sold his photographs around the globe. He currently lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Debora Pearson is the author of numerous children's books, including Sophie's Wheels. She lives in Toronto.

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