The Wooden Camel

From the Series Lantana Global Picture Books

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 2
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

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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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 2
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Category SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2017
Publisher Lantana Publishing
Imprint Lantana Publishing
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2020-06-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV030010, JUV002090, JUV039140
Dewey [Fic]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.75 x 9.75
Lexile 590
ATOS Reading Level 3.2
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 192429
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, and Teaching Guides

Author: Wanuri Kahiu

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.

Illustrator: Manuela Adreani

Manuela Adreani is a children's book illustrator and animator living in Turin, Italy. She illustrated The Wooden Camel, A Bank Street Best Books of the Year title.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Lantana Global Picture Books

Lantana Global Picture Books are inclusive and international stories celebrating every kind of child and family, because all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read. With a focus on #ownvoices authors from under-represented groups, these stories make a… View available downloads →


  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2018
  • Children's Africana Book Award Honor Book, Commended, 2018
  • Kate Greenaway Children's Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2017


School Library Journal

Wanuri Kahiu’s The Wooden Camel (Lantana, 2017; K-Gr 4) features Etabo, a Turkana boy who lives in northwest Kenya, where he dreams of becoming the best camel racer ever. However, as the price of water rises and the family’s financial situation worsens, the camels must be sold, Etabo’s older siblings are forced to find work, and he is left to tend their goats alone. Praying to Akuj the Sky God for help, Etabo is told, “Your dreams are enough.” These repeated words of wisdom, along with a thoughtful gift from his sister Akiru—a herd of hand-whittled wooden camels—eventually help to restore the boy’s hope for the future. Manuela Adreani’s flowing paintings depict sweeping grasslands and expressively depicted characters. This tale of family affection and the power of resiliency ends with Etabo tucked into bed, “clutching his new best friends,” while his dreams soar.


“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.”—Booklist

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“The text is streamlined but warm and sometimes humorous. . . . 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

School Library Journal

“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

Publishers Weekly

“[A] bittersweet story . . .”—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“[An] 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