Mason, Prue

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Mason, Prue

Personal

Born in Australia; married to a pilot. Education: Earned CELTA (certificate in English-language teaching to adults). Hobbies and other interests: Flying, reading, gardening, walking.

Addresses

Home—Maleny, Queensland, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Writer and educator. Former flight attendant on a private airplane piloted by her husband; wrote for a children's publication in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 1990-2001; owner of writers' retreat and guesthouse in Queensland, Australia. Science and technology editor for an Australian children's magazine published by Scholastic, beginning 1996. Also teaches English as a second language.

Awards, Honors

Queensland Premier's Literary Award, 2005, and Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People selection, National Council for the Social Studies/Children's Book Council, and Best Books of the Year selection, Bank Street College of Education, both 2007, all for Camel Rider.

Writings

Camel Rider (novel), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004, Charlesbridge (Watertown, MA), 2007.

Contributor to an Australian magazine published by Pearson Education, beginning 1997.

Sidelights

Prue Mason is the author of Camel Rider, a young-adult novel based on the author's experiences living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, during the 1990s. Born in Australia, Mason traveled the world as a flight attendant with her husband, a professional pilot. After moving to the Gulf region of the Middle East, Mason began working for a children's newspaper, writing columns about astronomy, astrology, and technology. She also penned

an advice column for Indian, Pakistani, and Arab teenagers. In a comment for the Charlesbridge publishers Web site, Mason observed: "After having lived and made friends with people from other nationalities, I know that no culture is better than another; we just do things differently."

The idea for Camel Rider came to Mason in a dream about a young boy lost in the desert. Shortly after that, she read a newspaper article describing the plight of camel jockeys—children who are enslaved and forced to race camels. "It was as if there were two different worlds living side by side," she remarked on the Charlesbridge Web site. "I began to wonder what would happen if these two worlds met each other." Her novel Camel Rider centers on Adam, a twelve-year-old Australia living in the fictional Middle-eastern city of Abudai. When war erupts and foreigners begin fleeing the city, Adam is separated from his neighbors and becomes stranded in the desert. There he finds Walid, a young camel rider who has been left for dead by his slave owners. As the boys fight for survival, they learn to overcome their differences. "The alternating first-person voices, set off typographically, reveal the depth of the boys' cultural differences and their growing ability to communicate," observed School Library Journal contributor Kathleen Isaacs. In the words of a Kirkus Reviews critic, Camel Rider will "open readers' eyes to a way of life they'll hardly believe actually exists."

Asked what message she hoped to impart in Camel Rider, Mason explained: "I hope readers realize that,

while there are differences in the way we think about things, deep down there is a common, shared humanity. If we can learn to respect the differences between us, then we might finally learn how we can all survive in this world. I know it's a bit of a heavy message but I can't help but think that these are desperate times and the messages can no longer be so subtle."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 2007, Jennifer Mattson, review of Camel Rider, p. 113.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of Camel Rider.

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007, review of Camel Rider, p. 60.

School Library Journal, July, 2007, Kathleen Isaacs, review of Camel Rider, p. 106.

ONLINE

Booked Out Speakers Agency Web site,http://www.bookedout.com.au/ (November 1, 2008), "Prue Mason."

Charlesbridge Web site,http://www.charlesbridge.com/ (November 1, 2008), essay by Mason.

Prue Mason Home Page,http://www.pruemason.com (November 1, 2008).

Writers.net,http://www.writers.net/ (November 1, 2008), "Prue Mason."

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