Cover image for The last straw
The last straw
Thury, Fredrick H.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Watertown, MA : Charlesbridge, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) color illustrations 29 cm
A prideful camel named Hoshmakaka learns the value of humility as he bears more and more gifts to the baby Jesus at Bethlehem.
General Note:
"A Talewinds book."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 31656.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PIC. BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PIC.BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PIC. BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday
PIC. BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

On Order



Christmas from a camel's-eye-view.
Everyone has heard the Christmas story before, but The Last Straw is a unique and unforgettable new telling. Voices roll across the desert sands to Hoshmakaka, a curmudgeonly old camel, whispering that he has been chosen for the great responsibility of carrying gifts to the new baby king. With reluctance, Hoshmakaka accepts his task. Every day in the heat crossing the desert, his pack grows ever more burdensome as the crowds of people, anxious to welcome the new king, give him their gifts to carry. He is as strong as ten horses as he proudly tells the younger camels. But, oh, his gout Oh, his sciatica Nevertheless, Hoshmakaka plods on until he reaches Bethlehem. In the end he realizes the great honor of his task and never again is there a burden too heavy for him to carry.
Vlasta van Kampen's gorgeous illustrations of the hot desert sands and the cool, star-filled night sky transport readers on the journey to Bethlehem to see the new baby king. The beautifully detailed illustrations of the loveable Hoshmakaka masterfully change as his pack of gifts grows impossibly huge.
The endearing Hoshmakaka is also available as a plush toy to be a companion at storytime. Nine inches tall and adorned with his precious pack of gifts, Hoshmakaka will be a great reminder of the rewards of giving all year long

Author Notes

Fredrick Thury served as Artistic Director of York University's Vanier College Productions for over twenty-five years. He was originally commissioned to write the story for THE LAST STRAW by the Toronto Children's Chorus, which performed the piece with musical accompaniment and subsequently recorded it for the CBC. Mr. Thury's works for children's theater include One Potato Too, The Technicolour Wizard, and Behind the Wrinkles.

Mr. Thury lived in Toronto. He passed away in 2006.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-3, younger for reading aloud. A grumpy camel's boast comes back to haunt him in this engaging Christmas picture-book tale, adapted from a choral libretto. Despite gout, sciatica, and general surliness, old Hoshmakaka reluctantly agrees to carry the Wise Men's gifts to the baby king. But because he incautiously puffs himself up before the younger camels, he also ends up taking jugs of milk and wine, baskets of pastries, and other presents offered along the way. Vlasa van Kampen's bright, sharply detailed watercolors depict the shaggy protagonist plodding along in stately arrogance beneath a burden that grows to comically towering proportions. When a child asks him to carry a piece of straw, Hoshmakaka refuses. He relents, however, but he realizes that if he wants to finish his trek, he'd better not stop again. Entering the stable at last, the camel falls to his knees in exhaustion, whereupon a touch of the baby's hand dispels both the burden's weight and the camel's wounded pride. The text and illustrations work unusually well together to evoke the story's humorous undertone while preserving a grand sense of occasion. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

Thury (One Potato, Too) takes a few liberties with the Nativity story, mixing in the oft-heard proverb associated with the title phrase. The goofy gimmick soon grows tiresome: an aged camel accepts the job of carrying the wise men's gifts to the "baby king" and then plays the role of beast of burden to the hilt ("My gout. My sciatica. My joints"). But van Kampen's (Dinosaur Days) watercolors get the soft hues of sun-drenched sand and starry nights just right. For a more poignant and evocative camel's-eye-view, see Elizabeth Coatsworth and Anna Vojtech's 1997 Song of the Camels. All ages. (Aug.) FYI: A plush toy version of the camel, with removable cargo, is also available. ($8.95 ISBN 1-57091-379-X) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Hoshmakaka, an old, foolish, and proud camel, is chosen to carry the wise men's gifts to the baby Jesus. Reluctantly, he agrees and boasts to the younger camels that he has the strength of 10 horses. As he embarks on his journey, people along the way ask him to take their gifts. Goaded by the younger camels, he keeps adding to his load. A small child asks him to carry one last gift, a piece of straw for the baby's bed, and Hoshmakaka is brought to his knees by the weight. Jesus reaches out and touches him and "From that time on there was no burden, great or small, that Hoshmakaka would not gladly carry." The story is adapted from Thury's original libretto, performed by the Toronto Children's Chorus. Strikingly rich, detailed watercolors enrich the text. While the humbling message may be too subtly conveyed for very young children, this low-keyed and gentle story can be enjoyed by a broad audience.-M.W. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.