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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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From the bookshelf

If you're looking for a children's book to read this holiday, try The Last Straw by Fredrick H. Thury (Charlesbridge, 1999; $15.95). Pride goes before the fall in this engaging story of Hoshmakaka, a camel who is chosen to bear gifts to Baby Jesus.

At first Hoshmakaka, who complains of bad joints, gout and sciatica, is reluctant. But he puffs up in front of the young camels and agrees to carry more and more. By the time Hoshmakaka adds the "last straw" to his burden and kneels before Jesus, he learns the value of humility.

Bright watercolor illustrations put the finishing touch to this whimsical story. The artist, Vlasta van Kampen, goes to Canada's Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to draw animals. Her efforts are worthwhile. You see a lot of detail in the camel's face — his pride, his pain and his change into humbleness. As you turn the pages, don't forget to look at the colorful items added to Hoshmakaka's back.

While The Last Straw is geared to children ages 4 to 8, adults will enjoy reading the story too.


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September issue

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