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The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster Kindle Edition

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Length: 242 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It’s a story almost too uplifting to believe: a young girl from a dirt-poor slum in Uganda meets a man, a missionary from a similar background, who inspires her to take up chess, a game so unknown in her country that there is not even a word for it in her language. The girl rises to national champion and travels to the Chess Olympiad in Siberia, a journey that opens her eyes to a world she might never have known. Crothers tells Phiona Mutesi’s story in a crisp, reportorial style (he’s a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated), but it’s nearly impossible to read the book without a strong emotional response. The author necessarily talks about the social and economic challenges that Phiona encountered in Uganda—most girls her age had no bigger dreams than simply surviving—but his focus remains centered on Phiona herself, the uneducated prodigy, the barely literate girl who, against all odds, stands poised to become a chess grand master. Inspiring without being strident about it. --David Pitt


“Crothers tells Phiona’s story in a straightforward manner, never losing sight of its emotional resonances…. By the end of The Queen of Katwe…you’ll join the ranks of those rooting for her success.”
Shelf Awareness
“An inspiring and heart-wrenching story.”
“An extraordinary account of one young woman’s exceptional achievement.”
Only a Game (NPR)
“Moving…. A poignant reminder of the power of hope.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Phiona’s story is worth attention, and sportswriter Tim Crothers caught on…. Crothers is able to broaden and deepen Phiona’s remarkable story.”
The Christian Science Monitor
“Crothers tells a story that isn’t just inspirational but a corrective to our most damning assumptions.”
Library Journal

"A moving and universal story of the power of potential and the wonder of perseverance. This story will inspire you--and will make you wonder how many more Phionas there are among us."
—Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

"This story of a young woman's triumph over the unimaginably cruel fortune she was born intowould pierce a heart of stone."
—Hillary Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of Mudbound and When She Woke

Product Details

  • File Size: 3606 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1451657811
  • Publisher: Scribner (October 9, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 9, 2012
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007EE4M90
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,047 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Edwards on October 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Phiona Mutesi is one of the best chess players on earth. At 11 she was her country's junior champion, at 15 a national champion. Soon after she traveled to Russia to participate in the Chess Olympiad, the most prestigious event in the Chess world. Only in her teens, she sat across the board from experts several years older, yet she played with an intensity and instinct that had more experience players struggling to keep the upper hand - and not always succeeding.

Her command of the game at such a young age certainly had people talking. Certainly she must have the best of coaches, the best education, and the best backing to be as good as she is. Certainly the best chess players have the best pedigree.


Phiona Mutesi is from Uganda, a country at the bottom of the pecking order of African nations. And she lives at the bottom of the pecking order of Uganda itself. She's a child of Katwe - one of the worst slums in the world.

The Queen of Katwe, by former Sports Illustrated senior writer, Tim Crothers, is a gritty inspiration. Crothers introduces us to a culture where human life is cheap. Where life, moment to moment, is not guaranteed. Where a teen girl's goal is to give herself to a man, or more than one man, in order to secure food and shelter - and hopefully support for children when she gets pregnant. But in a country rampant with AIDs, it's not uncommon for that male support to succumb to the disease and leave his offspring homeless and scraping for food.

This was the life that Phiona was born into. A world of mind-numbing destitution and hopelessness.

But while Phiona and other children like her fought to survive in the squalor that is Katwe, there were people who were determine to bring hope.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Books and Chocolate TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Reading about chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, her family, and the team of people who were intrumental in helping her see the potential for a life beyond the slum that is the only home she has ever known has been nothing short of a humbling experience. Although parts of Phiona's story are heartbreaking and some of the challenges seem insurmountable, her resolve to pursue her passion of becoming a chess Grandmaster despite the odds is inspiring.

In a society where reality t.v. stars (and some athletes) are given non-deserved celebrity status for doing nothing more than behaving badly, it is refreshing to read about someone who can teach all of us something about faith in God in the worst of circumstances, humbleness, perseverance, and daring to dream for what seems impossible. For most people the motivation to be the best at something is fame and fortune; for Phiona, being a chess champion is a matter of survival emotionally, physically, and economically. It helps provide food for her family for another day or two, and shelter for another week or maybe even a month. It has the potential to open doors for education that she might not have otherwise.

Once I started reading Phiona's story, I couldn't stop. When I reached the end I wanted more because her story is not finished yet. I want a sequel or some kind of postscript to know what has happened to her since the publication of this book. I find myself thinking about her every day, wondering if she and her family have been able to get out of the slum of Katwe and how she is doing in the next championship.

This is the story of a real-life hero and role model that adults and teens need to read, and that needs to be shared with other children.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N.J. Caldwell on November 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My copy of The Queen Of Katwe (pronounced kaat-way)is amazing. I have met both Phionia and Robert and had them sign the book. I have played chess with Phionia and (of course) she beat me. Their stories are truly amazing. I have also met Rodney Suddith and Russ Car.
This book is a story of triumph and Phionia is an amazing young lady. SOI had taught children soccer. Robert Katende saw children sitting on the sidelines, and had a vision to teach the children chess. they speak Lugandan , but they are learning English. in their language, there is no word for chess. Phionia had an amazing talent for it and the main reason her mother let Phionia go to the chess program is that they were giving them free food. In Katwe, it is total devastation.children care for children and there could b e5 people on one mattress.
It is an amazing story of God's mercy and grace . Please read it, your heart will go out to the Africans in slums and that are desperately in need of help.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Literary Wonders! VINE VOICE on February 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Date: 2/24/13
Title: The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster
Author: Tim Crothers
ISBN 13: 978-1451657814
Pages: 240
Publisher: Scribner
Cover: Hardcover
Rating: 4 Stars

Phiona Mutesi was a nine-year-old girl living in Katwe. Katwe is the worst slums in Uganda. Instead of getting an education, she had to get out and work. She and her siblings did odd jobs to help their mother. Between times, she was introduced to chess and picked up rather quickly. What will she do with her new skill?

Let me start off by saying Tim Crothers did a phenomenal job with this book. In the beginning, I had a hard time reading about the living conditions in Uganda. I applaud Crothers for keeping things raw. His work puts things in perspective and gives you something to think about. I walked away learning some Uganda history. This is definitely a book I would recommend to others.
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