Canadian Children's Book Centre's Reviews > Cry of the Giraffe

Cry of the Giraffe by Judie Oron
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Oct 11, 2011

bookshelves: black-history-month-books

Israel is the land of Wuditu’s dreams, and those of her family. As Jews living in Ethiopia, they are feared and hated by their Christian neighbours — and they dream fervently of escaping Ethiopia to live in Israel. When Wuditu is 13, she and the family she loves make the long trek to Sudan, hoping that once there, they can be transported — in a secret and dangerous rescue — to Jerusalem. They know that it will be an arduous journey, but they trust that all will be well if they rely on God and stay together.

Staying together proves much more difficult than they thought. They face the death of one uncle, the squalor and danger of the refugee camp and further family emergencies that leave Wuditu and her siblings alone. Just when it seems that life couldn’t possibly get worse, she and many others from the camp are forced back to Ethiopia.

What follows is Wuditu’s harrowing journey and quest to survive, this time without any of the family who cherishes her. Back in Ethiopia, Wuditu is at the mercy of strangers who would torture, maim, or even kill her if they find out she is Jewish. Her only “weapons” are her fiercely strong faith in God, and her own resourcefulness, determination, cunning and intelligence. Even those inner treasures don’t save her from being molested, raped, and humiliated as a slave. All the while, her only solace is also her primary motivation to keep going: holding onto hope for a joyous reunion with her family in Jerusalem.

Complete with an author’s note that puts Wuditu’s experiences in the context of the entire ordeal shared by all Ethiopian Jews, and a glossary of Ethiopian words used throughout the book, Cry of the Giraffe is based on Wuditu’s amazing true story. It is told in clear, simple language by Judie Oron, the journalist who finally saved Wuditu and brought her back to her family. This is a heartwrenching but ultimately joyous story for mature readers, about holding hope, dignity and faith close, even in the midst of dark oppression, shocking ruthlessness, senseless hatred and infuriating prejudice.

Reviewed by Christina Minaki in Canadian Children's Book News (Winter 2011, Vol. 34, No. 1)

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