Raja's Pet Camel: The Magic of Hope by Anita Nahta Amin

If you are a classroom teacher and were to ask your students what kind of pets they have at home, your students would probably say... cat, dog, fish, bird, turtle, snake, lizard, gerbil, hamster, bunny, guinea pig, horse, hermit crab, iguana, or even tarantula.  But how many of them would say... camel?  Some?  None?  That would totally depend on which part of the world you and your students live in, wouldn't it?

In Raja's Pet Camel: The Magic of Hope by Anita Nahta Amin, a little boy named Raja finds a baby camel and wants to keep him as a pet.  When he takes the camel home and asks his father if he could keep it, his father responded the way most parents would... No!  Will Raja be able to convince his father to let him keep the camel.  If so, how will he do it?  Is Raja's Pet Camel a work of fiction or nonfiction?  Reality or fantasy?  Keep reading to learn more about Raja's Pet Camel and the answers to these questions.

Author Summary

Raja had always wanted to have a pet like the happy kids in his school books did. But most yard animals in India worked. They weren’t for play. Never-the-less, when Raja stumbled upon a scared, baby camel, he took him home and made him his own pet.  But it wasn’t long before there were smashed pots! Broken fences! And a big mess everywhere! Kamal was a wild camel with wild ways! Raja’s father was not pleased. “We don’t have time for camels. We’re too busy herding goats,” he warned.  Raja loved his new pet but his father is fed up with the mess and determined to sell him at the next fair. Will Raja find a way to keep Kamal or will they lose each other forever? This tale of unconditional love and hope is sure to enchant any child!

🍎 Title: Raja's Pet Camel: The Magic of Hope
🍎 Author: Anita Nahta Amin
🍎 Illustrator: Parwinder Singh
🍎 Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press
🍎 Date: October 1, 2020
🍎 Pages: 32

Realistic Fiction

Your students may be surprised to learn that Raja's Pet Camel is a realistic fiction story.  Realistic fiction can be described as:

A genre of stories that are made up but could very well happen in real life. These stories often take place in settings familiar to your child which makes them more relatable.

Before you read Raja's Pet Camel with your students, take some time to build up their background knowledge. Talk to them about the setting of the story... the Thar Desert in India.  Show them photographs of India, camels, and the Thar Desert online.  Look at maps of India.  Read up on desert life and how people who live in the deserts rely on camels.  By doing these things to build your students' background knowledge, you will be making the book more 'familiar' and 'relatable' to them.  You will also make it easier for them to accept that Raja's Pet Camel is indeed realistic fiction!

Mini Geography Lesson

Raja's Pet Camel takes place in the Thar Desert in India. Before you and your students read Raja's Pet Camel, take a few minutes to look at India on a map.  Have your students use their map skills to learn as much as they can.  What continent is India on?  What ocean is next to it?  (Hmmm... how do you think that ocean got its name?)  What countries border India?  If you are using a topographical map of India, look for the Thar Desert.  What could life be like in the Thar desert?  How would it be different from where you live?  Is all of India covered by desert?  What other landforms, biomes, and bodies of water do you see?  Can you find the capital of India?  What is it?  How is it marked on the map?  What are the names of some of the big cities you can find?      

Fun Facts about Camels

In order for students to have a full appreciation for Raja's Pet Camel, it will help if they have some background knowledge about camels.

There are two kinds of camels.

If a camel has one hump, it's a dromedary.  If it has two humps, it's a Bactrian camel.  The number of humps on a camel has nothing to do with whether or not the camel is male or female.  There are male and female dromedaries and male and female Bactrian camels.

Camels are in the Camelidae family.

Camels, llamas, alpacas, guanacoes, and vicuΓ±as are all related.

Camels live in deserts where the climate is hot and dry.

Camels can be found in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.  They have evolved to live in the desert.  They have long eye leashes to keep the blowing sand out of their eyes, long necks to help them reach leaves high in the bushes, thick rubbery lips to eat prickly plants, and thick hair skin to protect them during sandstorms.

The earliest known camel was the protylopus.

The protylopus lived 40 to 50 million years ago in what is now South Dakota, USA.  It was a small camel that lived in the woodlands and cooler climates, unlike the camels that live in the deserts today.  Some sources say that the protylopus was as small as a rabbit; others as small as a 50-pound dog!  The protylopus went extinct 12,000 years ago.

Camels do NOT store water in their humps.

They store fat in their humps.  The fat in their humps helps them survive the harsh conditions of the desert.  When food and water are scarce, the camels' bodies will burn the fat for energy.  As the fat is burned off, their humps get smaller.

Camels were domesticated 5,000 years ago.

Humans use camels for transportation and to carry things.  They are also used for their meat, milk, and wool.  Some camels are even used for entertainment purposes... like camel racing!

Would a Camel Be a Good Pet?

The Venn diagram below can be used alone or as the first step in a writing assignment.  Students who use this diagram will be able to compare and contrast what they think having a camel as a pet would be like compared to having a dog, cat, fish, bird, snake, etc.   They can write about their own pets or a pet they wish they could have.  Their responses can be written in complete sentences or as a bulleted list.  After your students have completed their Venn diagrams, they can move on to a traditional reader response activity or some creative writing.  Lots of possibilities and variations!

To download a FREE copy of this Venn Diagram (one page in all), please click on the image above. Clicking this image will take you to the Teachers-Pay-Teachers third-party website. This is a FREE download-- no purchase necessary.

To learn more about Raja's Pet Camel and Anita Amin's other children's books, please visit Anita Amin's author page.

Raja's Pet Camel: The Magic of Hope by Anita Nahta Amin can be purchased from the following retailers:
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More Stories About Pets on Kelly's Classroom Online:

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