Category: Children’s Fiction (Ages 3-7), 38 pages
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Release date: July, 2021
Content Rating: G.
More From Robert Schorr
Shunning, Shaming and the Ignorance that Fuels It
Back in the dark ages of my teenage years, and for a reason I will never fathom, making fun of Polish people became a trend within my circle of acquaintances. I don’t think it was local to my area alone, either. Supposedly “clever” Polish jokes about gross ineptitude and dullness of mind. Some of you might remember them. They’re not worth repeating.
I didn’t know why the poor Polish were singled out—aren’t we all dull and inept? But some of them made me laugh because my big brother thought they were funny and a few of my friends at school did too, so…there I was…driftin’ with the flow, until I began to enjoy the friendship of a few folks of Polish origin—a wonderful tennis partner, a college professor, an artist—and discovered them to be among the most brilliant, engaging people I’ve ever known. Fearless people too, by the way— each one with a harrowing story to tell about the courageous fight for freedom in their native land.
I still remember the astonishment I had in discovering that Joseph Conrad, my first “favorite writ-er”, was actually Josef Teodore Konrad Korzeniowski. So…you’re tellin’ me that all those marvelous English novels are written in a second language? I had loved the music of Chopin too and the Arthur Rubenstein who mastered it, and the sci-fi novels of Stanislaw Lem, and I had learned to be thankful for Nicolaus Copernicus for restoring our sun to its rightful place. And let’s not forget Daniel Fahrenheit and Madame Curie, and… well, let’s not even go into the sciences…I don’t have a ream for this post.
I’m sure you get my point. People who made Polish jokes, back in the day, were basically broadcasting their own ignorance.
One year when I brought my family back to the States for a furlough from Asia—a visit with our families in California—my two boys found themselves shunned and bullied in their schools. The boys were 15 and 12 and they had been away from the States for six years, so they were “different” and that’s all it took. But what the bullies never knew was that my two boys were fluent for their age, in Mandarin. In fact, whenever the need for secrecy arose in the presence of their peers, they would launch into Mandarin and leave everyone else behind and bewildered (I don’t even want to know what the boys were saying!).
The truth of it is this: shunning and shaming and bullying are always signs of incredible ignorance, pure and simple. That’s a good thing to teach our kids. It will deter them, hopefully, from doing it to others; but it will also “steel” their little hearts when they find themselves subjected to it.
It happens to be one of the coincidental ‘points’ of my little Christmas Tale: Amal the Thirsty Gamal. My poor little camel is only belittled, not bullied. I didn’t want the story to be that dark or serious. But the shunning he endures is the product of sheer ignorance — the erroneous belief that there must be water in a camel’s hump. It took a Wise Man, by the caravan campfire one night, to scold the world and set the record straight: “…and let me urge each of you not to repeat the ridiculous notions you hear on the street…” And I’m so glad he did!
My Thoughts on Amal the Thirsty Gamal
A memory maker, that is what I thought of Amal the Thirsty Gamal. When I opened it up it read so beautifully, with wonderful lyrical rhythm and great illustrations. I fell in love with Amal and his plight so wonderfully told. It had quite a bit of verbiage making it something more like you would read to a younger age group, verses them reading it independently. Yet, it would be easily and vividly understood by a wide audience.
Robert Schorr did a great job working with his Illustrator, Kristina Koontz, to really bring this book fully to life. Amal and his friends, and the scenes were done with detail. I loved it.
I give Amal the Thirsty Gamal 5 Stars.
*I volunteered to read this book in return for my honest feedback. The thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own.