From the Publisher
Winner of the American Library Association's 2008 Schneider Family Book Award for young children, for artistic expression of the disability experience
Listed in the Banks Street College of Education's The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2008 edition
Winner of Moonbeam Children's Book Awards 2007, Bronze Medal, for Picture BookAll Ages
"Children will admire the young hero . . . for his intrepid spirit . . . animated use of gesture . . . [and] playacting to convey the yaks' plight." Kirkus Reviews
"The illustrations beautifully capture the awe-inspiring landscape and the quiet determination of its inhabitants." Pam Grossman, PhD, professor of education, Stanford University
"This story of fear, dedication and courage is handled with sensitivity and should capture and inspire young readers." Carla F. Berry, EdD, associate professor for early childhood education, emerita, Roosevelt University
"Kami and the Yaks was such a delight to read. The illustrations were inspiring." Maureen Y. Burns, assistant principal of instruction, Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, Gallaudet University, Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center
Children will recognize Kami's . . . pride [in solving] a family problem. . . . Atmospheric watercolors greatly extend the story's drama and tenderness.
Set in a rural Asian community and featuring a child hero with a physical disability, this debut picture book appears to head toward a moral lesson, but Dodson's skill and Stryer's fast-moving text combine to provide a genuinely rousing story. Kami and his family are Himalayan Sherpas and their strong, sturdy yaks are their most important possessions. When the yaks don't return one day, Kami sets out to look for them with his whistle: "Its buzz tickled his lips, though he could not hear its shrill call because he was deaf." Although he finds the animals and discovers why they won't come back, he can't convince his father to take his gestured warnings seriously. Kami's deafness figures into the story, but it's his grit and resourcefulness that drive the action forward. With a nimble brush, Dodson creates an entire Himalayan world for readers, who-like Kami-can only gather knowledge from what they see. Kami's heavy coat and hat, the sheer cliffs and paths that make up the landscape and the patient yaks all seem close enough to touch. In the end, Kami helps Father rescue the yaks; in contrast to his earlier anger, "Father picked him up and clasped him to his chest." For all the adversity Kami faces, he has the opportunity to do real, important work for his family that modern children often do not; they may read his story not just with interest, but with envy. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Kami is a young sherpa boy who lives in an unnamed location in rugged Himalayan terrain. When the family's four yaks go missing, Kami's father and older brother go out to look; but Kami knows where the yaks are. Whistle in hand, the young boy sets out to find them. He tracks down the animals but they won't budge. Finally he notices that the littlest yak, White Spot, is trapped, his leg stuck between two rocks. It must be noted that this storyline, on the face of it, has absolutely everything going for it: rising tension, an appealing stakes character in the young yak, and a positively adorable protagonist in Kami. However, the story seems to well entirely from the author's intentions, which, while completely worthy, are a little too obvious. Information about Kami's deafness and his consequent lack of speech serve the author's purpose but fall short of organically building the story's magic. The narrative lacks luster, with many bald statements (e.g., "Father was angry"). The author frequently misses ripe opportunities to lead us into the story, instead resorting to merely telling it. Viewpoint is indeterminate and vacillates throughout, and in all, Kami and the Yaks is a perfectly marvelous idea that feels less than fully developed. Dodson's misty perspectives and gentle palette offer texture and nicely evoke the mountain landscape of this story.