Monday, July 28, 2014

Army Camels by Doris Fisher and Julie Dupre Buckner (illustrator)

Non-fiction picture books are in big demand since the adoption of Common Core Standards in most states. The standards emphasize students’ ability to read and comprehend non-fiction text, particularly in the upper elementary grades. But why wait to introduce children to this genre when there are marvelous non-fiction texts in picture book form?

Former Kindergarten teacher, Doris Fisher knows firsthand the kind of book that can keep children’s attention. She poured these qualities into her non-fiction picture book about the military’s endeavor in 1856 to import camels to the U.S. to use as pack animals. In Army Camels, Fisher tells the true story of how thirty-three camels boarded a U.S. Navy ship in North Africa and made a three month journey to Texas. (By the time they arrived, there were thirty-four camels on board!) Can you imagine the reaction when a caravan of camels marched down the gangplank? The camels amazed everyone with their ability to carry loads equal to the weight of six men. As expected, the camels were a valuable asset to the military because of their ability to transport supplies and go days without water in the desolate wilderness.

This entertaining, true story is brought to life through the artwork of illustrator Julie Dupre Buckner. (In the interest of disclosure, Julie was the illustrator of our book, JUBILEE!) Julie’s attention to details can be found throughout the book. On the cover, a military-like stencil is used for the book’s title and an abridged map shows the distance camels were transported on their journey. Most intriguing is the accuracy of the various positions of the camels as they lifted and carried heavy loads.

Army Camels is the winner of the 2014 Crystal Kite Award forthe Texas/Oklahoma region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It is a well deserved honor for this thoroughly researched and visually accurate representation of an intriguing, true story. 


  1. I am amazed at how authors come up with their stories. This is a fantastic idea to tell history in picture books. Love the illustration!

  2. It is intriguing to see what catches a writer's attention and how they tell a story, especially in picture book form


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