(also - 2004, Zero to Ten, Softcover)
To celebrate Christmas in addition to baking Christmas cookies, setting up the manger scene, decorating the tree, and numerous other seasonal activities, we also like to pause in out preparations to cozy up together and read good books that encapsulate the true meaning of Christmas. The Last Straw by Frederick H. Thury is one such book.
Hoshmakaka is a grumpy, old camel, who would rather do anything than carry gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Bethlehem. He is sleeping peacefully one night when he is visited by voices informing him that the wise men have chosen him for this task. He balks at the idea, providing feeble excuses, but when a furious wind blows the sand, he changes his mind.
The next day as the servants of the wise men are placing the precious gifts on his back a group of young, admiring camels comments that he must be very special. His pride puffed up, he brags that he is “as strong as ten horses” and then allows the young camels to accompany him along the journey. This could be his downfall. Will they find out the truth?
Along the way, one after another person or animal begs Hoshmakaka to carry a gift to the newborn king, creating a mountainous pile on his back. Finally, he comes within sight of Bethlehem. Feeling the strain of the weight, he doubts he will make it when a small voice asks him to carry one more gift for the baby.
Can he do it? Will he make it?
The pictures are delightful. My children enjoyed picking out the gifts piling up on his back. It has also become a familiar line in our home to say, “My joints, my gout, my sciatica.” And the ending is superb! All ages will enjoy this wonderful story.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Yank (12/4/2007).
Available from Adoremus Books and Hillside Education.