When change comes to the Bedouin village, it's twelve-year-old Ali who resists, his father, chief Sidi, who is ready to adjust, which gives this cultural catch-up a fresh slant; it might have been better still if the chief weren't so articulate about his reasons for welcoming the new laws, the new machines, the new mores. Ali's resentment is understandable--he's been treated as a man and now he has to go to school with ""babies."" Having Linjid as a friend helps. Linjid, son of the new doctor, is only nine but he knows the ways of school as well as Ali knows the ways of the desert, and their all-round competition spurs and reassures both. Meanwhile--extending the theme of mutual admiration--tourists come to marvel at the Matmata cave houses. All of this is salutary and so, in a different way, is Ali's act of releasing the gazelle he's always wanted to catch and now realizes he can't tame; but the imagery (Ali and the gazelle gaining freedom) is as deliberate as the story in its entirety. Static, sculptured full-page drawings do little to enliven it.