Wanuri Kahiu The Wooden Camel

ISBN 13: 9781911373124

The Wooden Camel

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9781911373124: The Wooden Camel
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Etabo dreams of being a camel racer. One day he might even beat his older brother when they race. But with the price of water rising, Etabo's father must sell the camels, and his siblings must find work. What will Etabo do now? From acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu and Italian illustrator Manuela Adreani, this story of love and hope centers on the inspiring Turkana people of northwest Kenya. Told with gentleness and humor, it is a universal story about keeping one's dreams alive.

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About the Author:

Born in Nairobi, Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu's award-winning films have screened in more than 100 film festivals around the world. The Wooden Camel is her first picture book.

Review:

"Etabo 'knows he will be the best camel racer ever,' and he eagerly awaits the day when he's old enough to ride. When his family has to sell their camels to pay for water, he's upset, but Akuj the Sky God tells him, 'Your dreams are enough.' As his older brothers and sisters leave home to work and Etabo is left to mind the goats on his own, though, he finds his dreams of camel racing pretty unsatisfying compensation. When his older sister kindly whittles him a herd of wooden camels, however, Etabo finds they give his pretend play enough power to finally make his dreams enough. The trajectory of this East African story, by Kenyan filmmaker Kahiu, ends at a place that may be surprising to some American listeners, since stories about wishes becoming reality are such a literary staple here. That makes the book all the more interesting and immediate, though, as most young people are a lot more familiar with satisfying imaginative play anyway, and there's a strong subtextual suggestion that Etabo is yearning not just for camel racing but for the closeness of his departing brothers and sisters. The text is streamlined but warm and sometimes humorous, with Etabo's animal experiences (Keti the head-butting goat enlivens his days) particularly engaging. Art by Italian illustrator Adreani is softly grainy with gentle spatters of texture, while draftsmanship deliberately exaggerates the figures, especially the animals, with streamlined elongation. Kids with unmet desires of their own will relate to this gentle tale that gives dreams full respect in their own right."―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

(Journal)

"Etabo dreams of racing camels, even though his siblings think he is much too small to ever accomplish this. It is devastating news to Etabo when his father informs them he will have to sell the camels so they can have money for water. Instead of fulfilling his dreams, Etabo is sent to watch over the goats. One goat, Keti, brings him some entertainment, but he doesn't provide the thrill Etabo is looking for. When camels are no longer in his future, he searches for an alternative. 'So instead Etabo tries to ride . . . Chickens . . . Cats . . . And even Keti . . . But none of them will have it.' After a kind gesture from Etabo's sister and a repeated message from Akuj the Sky God, Etabo realizes that dreams can take many forms and can always be adjusted. This evocative story, illustrated by Adreani, transports readers to the desert of northwestern Kenya with sweeping landscape images and dreamlike spreads. The beautiful illustrations and message about resilience will resonate with a variety of readers young and old. Perfect for one-on-one and small group sharing."―starred, School Library Journal

(Journal)

"Etabo longs to race camels like his older brother does, but before he has the chance, circumstances intervene and his father has to sell their camels in order to buy water. Etabo thinks his dream has been crushed and he appeals to the Sky God, who assures him, 'your dreams are enough.' It takes Etabo and the reader awhile to come to terms with this oblique wisdom. Meanwhile, Etabo finds amusement in his chores, minding the goats, and pursuing, to no avail, his dream of riding with other animals. Kahiu's sparse prose is beautifully accented by Adreani's gorgeous illustrations. Swathes of pale blue, deep-rose pink, and golden skies dominate most pages, and offset the deep-brown-hued people. Sweeping lines and elongated shapes make goats and camels appear graceful in this arid Kenyan landscape and lend a refreshing, contemporary tone to the story. Readers will be drawn to Etabo’s vulnerability and to his sister, Akiru's generosity. Ultimately, the Sky God's message is realized in a subtle and unexpected way."―Booklist

(Website)

"A Kenyan Turkana boy's dreams of racing his family's camels suffer when his father sells them because of the rising price of water. Etabo and his siblings tend the family's goats until another water price hike sends the older ones off to find work. Tending the goats alone, Etabo daydreams about racing camels. He even tries riding chickens, cats, and the stubborn goat Keti. When Etabo implores Akuj the Sky God for help, the answer returns: 'Your dreams are enough.' His sister Akiru, observing Etabo's increasing unhappiness, whittles him a gift of three wooden camels. The toys fuel Etabo's imaginative play and prompt nighttime dreams of winning a camel race. Akiru's kindness fuels Etabo's release from his frustrated desires, engendering imaginative play that's right-sized for both his development and his family's situation. Kenyan filmmaker Kahiu's telling is simple and straightforward. She infuses the narrative with details from Etabo's daily experiences, from the acacia tree where he rests to Akuj, to whom he prays. Italian illustrator Adreani's mannerist pictures feature humans and animals with ultrathin limbs and delicate, stylized features. Akiru wears traditional beaded necklaces and silver earrings. Her sweet gift and Etabu's appreciative hug are poignantly depicted. This empathetic look at a Turkana boy's deferred dreams and a family's struggle for a resource taken for granted by most American children strikes an important chord for families."―Kirkus Reviews

(Journal)

"A boy dreams of racing camels in Kenyan filmmaker Kahiu's bittersweet story, which features the Turkana people of northwest Kenya. Etabo's older siblings tease him for his goal ('He's too small to race camels'), and he suffers another setback when his father sells their camels in order to afford water. The companionship of a favorite goat, Keti, helps Etabo keep up his spirits, and he prays to Akuj, the Sky God, for help twice. The deity's response is always the same: 'Your dreams are enough.' Delicate pencil outlines combine with gauzy washes of color in Italian illustrator Adreani's sweeping grasslands; despite the family's struggles, Etabo's resilience comes through in playful scenes where he rests in an acacia tree with Keti, 'daydreaming about racing camels,' and attempts (unsuccessfully) to ride various uncooperative animals: 'Chickens... Cats... And even Keti.' Etabo's daydreams gain a new outlet after his sister carves him wooden camels to race in his imagination. It's a simple act that allows Etabo's dreams to thrive―readers can imagine where that nurtured hope might take him in the future."―Publishers Weekly

(Journal)

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9781911373131: The Wooden Camel

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ISBN 10:  1911373137 ISBN 13:  9781911373131
Publisher: ROUNDHOUSE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017
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