Kami and the Yaks
Illustrated by: Bert Dodson
Published by: Bay Otter Press, Palo Alto, California. 2007
Age: 5 – 8 years
Theme: communication, resourcefulness, deafness, strength and courage
Opening Lines: High in a land where winds blow snow clouds off tall mountain peaks, Kami stepped out into the early morning dark. He sniffed the moistness.
Synopsis: (from the flap) The story tells of a young, deaf Sherpa boy in the Himalaya. His family earns its living by guiding mountain climbers and carrying their gear on yaks. When the yaks cannot be found before a trek, Kami sets off in the high mountains, determined to find them. Despite his fear of being alone in a fierce storm, Kami finds the courage to keep searching.
Why I like it: The vivid illustrations are amazing and convey the majesty of the mountain terrain and depict Sherpa society. The story was inspired by a determined little boy the author met while trekking in the Mount Everest region of Nepal. Though he could not speak, he communicated well with creative gesturing. And he loved the yaks especially the littlest one, just as Kami does in this story.
I loved most that this author shared the thoughts of Kami, showed us his determination both in surving the storm, saving the Yaks, but also in being understood. I loved that his being deaf and unable to speak was shown not to be holding him back in achieving his goal. A great story showing what we can do if we put our minds to it. I loved the page where it says…. Father put him down in front of Curly Horn. Kami took the big yak’s thick woven collar in his hand. Immediately, the other yaks fell in line. Kami grinned at Father. I did it, and he knows I did it! Kami tugged on Curly Horn’s collar. This left me with a lump in my throat, a really lovely moment. I was also surprised when I finished the story and realised there was no dialogue. Cleverly written and with a back story on the last page this makes for an interesting resource for schools as well.
It is not surprising to hear of Andrea Stenn Stryer’s passion for trips to the Himalayas, trekking in Nepal, snorkelling in Great Barrier, and visiting Antarctica, and African savannah. Her previous book is The Celestial River: Creation Tales of the Milky Way.
Bert Dodson has illustrated more than seventy books for children and authored two and was an animation designer for a four-part PBS television series .. Intimate Strangers (1998). He also illustrates opera stories for children.
Resources/Findings: A write-up of an award by Otter Press… http://www.bayotterpress.com/kamiyaks.htm
Here are some facts for kids….. http://www.alanarnette.com/kids/everestfacts.php
Another great site on Sherpa’s … http://www.sherpakyidug.org/sherpa/sherpa_facts.asp
Another interesting fact site for kids…. http://kinooze.com/2012/08/28/who-are-sherpa-people/
For more books with resources please head on over and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books. Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors