Friday, 1 September 2017

The Wooden Camel by Wanuri Kahiu and Manuela Adreani reviewed by Chitra Soundar

I am a big believer in dreams and visualising the future. Although that wasn’t the reason I picked up The Wooden Camel written by Wanuri Kahiu and illustratedby Manuela Adreani published by Lantana Publishing. What drew me into the book was the amazing cover illustration that shows a boy racing a camel. Juxtaposed against the title The Wooden Camel, it alerted me to the dream, the aspiration of the young boy.

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.
Anais Nin

Etabo has a hard life and like any other child he takes it in his stride. His ambition and dream is to become a camel racer. But difficult circumstances lead them to selling all their camels almost closing the door on Etabo’s dreams.

But as Paul Coelho once said, only fear of failure can stop one from achieving his dreams. It is true in Etabo’s case. However dire the circumstances, he doesn’t give up and neither does his sister allow him to let go of his dreams. When you lose what you have and all you have left is family, you learn to look after them and keep their dreams alive, even at the cost of your own. In this story Etabo’s sister demonstrates her love by making him a wooden camel.

Will it assuage Etabo’s  hunger for racing and allow him to let go or would it keep the flame alive? Knowing Etabo, I think his dreams will come true one day.

 This book was chosen as one of the 21 Must-Reads for Empathy by Empathy Lab UK and The Sunday Times. I love the vastness of the desert, the resting goat on the acacia tree and the hope in every page in spite of the troubles the characters face.

Is it a story just for those in troubled parts of the world? Then perhaps it is for all of us – we all live in troubled spots. There are many children in the UK who live in poverty, there are children in refugee camps across the world and there are children who seemingly have everything, but perhaps still are dreaming about something else. It is for all these children, wherever they are. Today’s dreamers are tomorrow’s leaders, creators and peacemakers. And may they all have the courage to dream a world that is full of love, peace and a well-looked after nature.

Chitra Soundar is an Indian-born British writer of children's books. Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @csoundar.



Pippa Goodhart said...

It looks so beautiful! And clearly has an important message. Thank you for the recommendation, Chitra.

Chitra Soundar said...

I love the illustrations

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