Chris, a 12-year-old boy from Chicago, is having a hard time adjusting to his new life in the remote western Serengeti, Africa, after moving there with his parents to help them run a tented safari camp. While school and friends were the norm in his old life, this new reality is filled with lonely days, an unpredictable Internet service, and wild animals roaming through the camp. Then, Chris befriends Khalid, a young Maasai warrior who comes to work at the camp as a security guard, and who teaches this very American boy about the Swahili language, the land and the animals that are an integral part of the Serengeti. When an elephant near the camp's property is illegally hunted for its ivory tusks, Chris finds himself drawn into a battle to save the place he now calls home.
This was a beautiful and moving story encompassing two years of a middle-schooler's experience in Tanzania, in the Serengeti National Park, while working with his parents at a resort for tourists. The descriptions were incredibly vivid and realistic and painted a picture in my mind's eye which are captured well by the beautiful cover art. The characters, especially Khalid, had substance and uniqueness. I believed every one of them was in fact a real person. They were handled sensitively too. I never got the impression that Chris, or the author, were alluding that one way of life was "better" than the other--quite the opposite, there was a deep respect for other ways of being, including for nature and the animals in it. The whole story had an authentic feel with careful details, sometimes heartbreakingly so given the subject matter of elephant poaching. There were moments of humor and exciting adventure. I do wish there had been more resolution for one certain character at the end (no spoiler!), but I also recognize that the author did that intentionally to mirror the reality of the situation. This is a great book for animal lovers and young activists and I will recommend it.
A terrific middler-grade book that combines a culture clash with a close-up and personal view of illegal poaching. Set in Africa, the story gives insights into the Maasai culture as well. I also loved the great descriptions of the Serengeti.
Topical, informative and entertaining are three words that quickly come to mind when I think of this book.
Who doesn't want to experience Africa? Ms. Armstrong takes us there through the eyes of Chris, an American boy who arrives as an outsider, but comes to appreciate and love his new home through his relationship with a young Maasai warrior. Through authentic landscape, wild animal encounters, and a taste of Swahili vocabulary, readers feel as if they've personally stepped onto the plains of the Serengeti. Yet the best part of this book is how Chris takes action to save the elephants he cherishes from the hands of brutal poachers. A deeply moving and timely theme, readers are empowered to learn more about and even join forces to save these gentle giants.
I thoroughly enjoyed this middle grade title about Chris, an American boy thrust into an entirely new life in the Serengeti - a life that bears little resemblance to the one he left behind in Chicago. As Chris gains a foothold in the day-to-day experience in Africa and makes friends with a Maasai warrior, he becomes immersed in the fight against poachers to protect the local elephants, whom he has grown to love.
Because of Khalid is a perfect read for middle grades, but also very enjoyable for adults. The diverse characters add a depth that many books written for this target audience lack. It’s not just your typical adventure fiction. Because of Khalid ingeniously grabs you and gets you to think about an important issue that most of us have spent little to no time thinking about. Pick up a copy for yourself and any middle grader in your life, and be prepared for important issues to be discussed.
Read this book and learn about a subject we all need to invest our hearts and energy in stopping...the illegal poaching of elephant tusks. This middle grade novel is very powerful and the character development makes the story so compelling and heartfelt…I care so much about what happens in Tanzania to these beloved, endangered elephants and understand the issue so much more. This novel sat in my head after I put it down each day I was reading it. The subject is important and should compel us to do something. A very engaging and fascinating read that takes on an issue we all need to understand and does so in a way accessible to all ages middle grade and older. It also gave a sense of life in Tanzania and the pure simplicity of it...the way we live in America is light years from their existence.
This is a wonderful first effort and a compelling read for middle schoolers who appreciate learning about new cultures and distant lands. I wanted there to be more of a resolution regarding the “villains”, but understand that the lack of a resolution mirrors the real world struggle of catching poachers/ending the poaching problem. As such, the reader is left with the comfort of what Chris has learned through his experiences and the relationship he has forged with Khalid in this coming of age story. I look forward to having a book talk with my son who had already finished it (his teacher read the book aloud to his 4th-6th grade high ability class after they had completed state testing earlier this spring).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Because of Khalid is about a Chicago boy living in an African safari tent camp. Wildlife is routinely outside his tent. He develops a friendship for a Maasai warrior. So cool. Clearly written, and different from the normal middle grade offerings.
❤️ This could be your new favorite book if you want to learn about life in a safari camp or are curious about poaching. . Main character: Chris (12/13) Pages: 152 Guided Reading: NA Genre: Realistic Fiction . Chris and his parents moved to the Serengeti to run a safari camp. Living in Tanzania is quite different than the life that Chris was used to in Chicago and the clash of the two cultures makes the transition interesting. He soon begins to love his routines at the safari camp, becomes friends with Maasai warrior, finds himself in the middle of an elephant poaching mystery.