One girl’s harrowing trek from exile and slavery to hope in a new land — all based on a true story. In the early 1980s, thousands of Ethiopian Jews fled the civil unrest, famine and religious persecution of their native land in the hopes of being reunited in Yerusalem, their spiritual homeland, with its promises of a better life. Wuditu and her family risk their lives to make this journey, which leads them to a refugee camp in Sudan, where they are separated. Terrified, 15-year-old Wuditu makes her way back to Ethiopia alone. “Don’t give up, Wuditu! Be strong!” The words of her little sister come to Wuditu in a dream and give her the courage to keep going. Wuditu must find someone to give her food and shelter or she will surely die. Finally Wuditu is offered a solution: working as a servant. However, she quickly realizes that she has become a slave. With nowhere else to go, she stays — until the villagers discover that she is a falasha, a hated Jew. Only her dream of one day being reunited with her family gives her strength — until the arrival of a stranger heralds hope and a new life in Israel. With her graceful long neck, Wuditu is affectionately called “the giraffe. ” And like the giraffe who has no voice, she must suffer in silence. Based on real events, Wuditu’s story mirrors the experiences of thousands of Ethiopian Jews.


  • Commended, White Ravens Collection, International Youth Library, Munich 2010
  • Winner, Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award 2010
  • Commended, Amelia Bloomer Project List, ALA 2010
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List 2010
  • Commended, YALSA Hidden Gems 2010
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre 2010
  • Commended, Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens 2010


“The story . . . is extremely well told with a clear voice that is occasionally heartbreaking in its ability to create proximity while maintaining distance. ”

- Resource Links, 12/10

“An interesting account of a group that most have never heard of, let alone their plight. ”

- Library Media Connection, 05/11

“Amazing and harrowing. This book is suspenseful and worth reading. ”

- Jewish Book World, Spring/11

“This is an astonishing and intensely moving book about an Ethiopian Jewish girl attempting to make her way to Israel . . . What makes this especially moving is that it is based on a true story. ”

- Amelia Bloomer Project’s List of Recommended Books

“Paints indelible images on the brain and calls attention to the reality of child slavery, while spotlighting a proud moment in Israeli history. ”

- Chronicle Herald (Halifax), 01/30/11

“Teens will find [the story] compelling and understand Wuditu’s feelings, hopes and dreams that are so similar to their own. It will engage students as they grapple with issues of human rights, displaced peoples, social justice and activism. ”

- Professionally Speaking, 03/11

“This is an example of masterful storytelling . . . Readers learn a great deal about Ethiopia while they are caught up in a riveting story. ”

- School Library Journal, 12/10

“A compelling novel . . . left me longing to read more. Highly recommended. ”

- CM Reviews, 10/10

“Oron unfolds Wuditu’s harrowing story with a journalist’s eye for memorable details and unforgettable situations. ”

- American Jewish Libraries Newsletter, 11/10

“Shows with brutal, unflinching detail the horrors of refugee life and child slavery and the shocking vulnerability of young females in the developing world. ”

- Booklist Online, 10/21/10