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Cry of the Giraffe Paperback – July 22, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–A growing number of Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Israel, relocate to Israel for a better life. To do so, they must travel more than 600 miles by foot across the desert, fighting thirst, scorpions, disease, and violent soldiers. This novel is based on the true story of 13-year-old Wuditu, one of the thousands who attempted this journey. Separated from her family after her father and sister take ill, this courageous girl (nicknamed “Giraffe” because of her long neck and stately composure) must fend for herself. Before she makes it to Israel, she is enslaved for two years. Oron's novel exposes the injustice and degradation girls face around the world. Wuditu is held captive and raped, but manages to escape a life of prostitution. This book is less graphic than Patricia McCormick's Sold (Hyperion, 2006), a novel of child prostitution in Nepal and for a younger audience, but it is sobering nonetheless. Canadian journalist Oron, who rescued the young girl on whom Wuditu's character is based, writes her story in precise, formal prose, sympathetic yet distant. Her journalistic stance serves the story better during dramatic refugee scenes than during the quieter early chapters about life in the village. However, this is an example of masterful storytelling. Each chapter is skillfully organized and perfectly paced. The author weaves foreign words seamlessly into the narrative, defining them through context and never slowing down the story with exposition. Readers learn a great deal about Ethiopia while they are caught up in a riveting story.–Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College Queens, Long Island City, NY. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Beginning with a long historical note, this searing novel tells the story of Ethiopian Jews’ perilous emigration to Israel during the 1970s from the viewpoint of a young teen. Discriminated against in their Ethiopian village, Wuditu, 13, and her family join other Jewish families on the arduous journey to Sudan, where, in a squalid refugee camp, they hope to join secret, Israeli-arranged flights to Jerusalem. Then Wuditu’s family is split apart, and Wuditu and her sister are sent back to Ethiopia, where Wuditu is sold into slavery and prostitution. Oron, a journalist with extensive knowledge of Ethiopia’s Beta Israel Jewish population, based this first-person narrative on the experiences of her adopted Ethiopian daughters, and her telling of family members’ stories that are so closely based on fact may raise questions for some. But like Patricia McCormick’s Sold (2006), Oron’s novel shows with brutal, unflinching detail the horrors of refugee life and child slavery and the shocking vulnerability of young females in the developing world, and she offers a sobering introduction to a community and historical episodes rarely covered in books for youth. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Annick Press (July 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781554512713
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554512713
  • ASIN: 1554512719
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Levine on December 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
CRY OF THE GIRAFFE by Judie Oron is the story of an innocent girl's survival amidst the total extent of human beings' behaviours ranging from evil, cruel and stupid to compassionate and courageous. There are two heroines in this moving story: the author who had the heart, courage, tenacity and determination to save Wuditu under dire circumstances, and her daughter Wuditu who, despite her young age, had the emotional strength to withstand, all alone, interminable physical and emotional ordeals. It is one woman's story of resilience. It is 2 women's, Wuditu's and Judie Oron's, story of courage.
What a riveting read, whether you are 15 or 75! This is a cannot-put-down book, based on a true story.
Eleanor Levine
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Krystyna Lagowski on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
Judie Oron has spun a story of inspiration about her daughter Wuditu's survival in war-ravaged Ethiopia. Against a horrific background of war, genocide and unimagined savagery, Wuditu is separated from her family, witnesses and is subject to unspeakable acts of brutality. Her ferocious will to survive and Judie's courageous determination to find Wuditu and save her, combine for a happy ending. It is a gripping tale of hope and the triumph of human decency that will mesmerize readers from 14 to 100!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Strasnick on October 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An amazing story of a young women who survives captivity and lives to find her family again and goes on to live a free life in Israel. The book reads quickly and has an ending that makes you feel so good.

KS
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Format: Paperback
This fiction story, is based on the true story of Wuditu, an Ethiopian Jew, one of the Beta Israel, called falashas which means strangers, who escaped from a life of persecution in Ethiopia beginning in the late 1980s to go to Israel. Although there were many outsiders trying to help the falashas, the Christian people of Ethiopia and Sudan believed that the falashas were evil murderers who killed their Lord and who would put the evil eye on people and curse them and they hated and persecuted the Beta Israel, just as Jews have always been persecuted throughout the world. As Wuditu fled with her family to try to get to Yerushalem, they were separated and when her younger sister became ill, Wuditu left to find work and help. For several years Wuditu was forced to be a servant, then a prostitute, then a slave before she finally was found and rescued and reunited with her family in Israel. The story is sad and touching.
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This book is hard to read because it is just so painful. The young heroin faced so many hardships. She was mistrusted for being a black Jew in Ethiopia, fought to get the most minimal education, lived in a wretched refugee camp (that's probably about the only kind there are), kicked out of Sudan without her family, and that is just the beginning. The author writes of Wuditu's experiences in a very dignified style, and although I think some of the subject matter is too old for the 12 year olds I work with, the book is written in a very tasteful manner. The end seemed a bit rushed and forced when Wuditu meets the author, and I'm not quite sure why. The book, however, is amazing because many of us don't know much about Jews in Africa and the horrid conditions they faced (still face?) in very recent times. A quick but powerful read. The Return by Sonia Levitin is a similar story also worth reading.
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