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Monday, March 21, 2011

Beduin's Gazelle by Frances Temple

I was hoping this book would be a good way to give my children an image of the world they are studying in history. The factual errors and random historical insertions were enough to turn me off, however.

One of the Arab Beduins, for example, has a Hebrew name, Miriam, when there is an equivalent, and different, Arabic name, Mariam. The single European character seems to be present only to explain that there were Christian missionaries, and only briefly and without any context. Since the story was somewhat engaging, I thought I could simply explain those to the children and let them read it anyway. I figured it was harmless, if not particularly accurate, historically. However, as the story began to develop and reach its climax, it was as if the author ran out of paper and simply stopped the story. Deus ex machina, everything turned out as it ought, with no explanation or logical reason. This wasn't simply a suspension of disbelief, it was out of left field. At that point, I just didn't want to subject them to the whole package of historical errors and mediocre writing.

I wish this story were better, as it had much promise, but I won't be passing it on to my children. I wish I had the two or three hours back that I spent reading it, too.

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When you wrote "it was as if the author ran out of paper and simply stopped the story" you may have spoken more truly than you knew, as (according to Amazon) the author apparently died the day she sent the book to her editor! Maybe the author was feverishly working to have anything done.
Yikes! I wonder why they published it at all, then. It really was: Danger of being married off to cruel tribal leader against her will; next morning, now she's marrying the love of her life and there is peace between the tribal leaders.
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