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The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster Hardcover – October 9, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451657811
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451657814
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #753,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

"A must-read for all who dare to dream." (Library Journal (starred review))

"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 into would pierce a heart of stone."--Hillary Jordan, New York Times-bestselling author of Mudbound and When She Woke

The Queen of Katwe is one of the most inspiring, thought-provoking, humbling books I’ve ever read. It’s a must-read for any chess player, woman, athlete, or frankly anyone who knows any of the previous three, aka everyone!”--Siva Sankrithi, Math Teacher & Chess Coach, Lakeside Upper School, Seattle, WA

The Queen of Katwe is gripping. We witness Phiona’s incredible evolution as a player, as she competes against older and far more experienced competitors. It also offers readers a fascinating look at a war-torn and struggling nation, as well as the unlikely story of how her mentor Robert Katende, a refugee of Uganda’s civil war, has created a flourishing chess program for kids in one of Africa’s most treacherous slums. This story has the power to inspire girls everywhere."--Alexandra Kosteniuk, Grandmaster, 12th Women's World Chess Champion (www.chessqueen.com)

"Moving.... A poignant reminder of the power of hope."--Kirkus Reviews

"The Queen of Katwe is an extraordinary account of one young woman’s exceptional achievement. It is also a lament for this world in which only a tiny number of incredibly fortunate and exceptionally determined children have any chance of escaping the dehumanizing poverty that prevails in Katwe and places like it." (Bill Littlefield, host of "Only a Game" on National Public Radio)

“It’s a story almost too uplifting to believe… Crothers tells Phiona Mutesi’s story in a crisp, reportorial style, but it’s nearly impossible to read the book without a strong emotional response… Inspiring.” (Booklist)

"The Queen of Katwe Tim Crothers gives us an inspiring and heart-wrenching story." (Chessville.com)

"An inspirational profile of an amazing chess player from one of the world's worst slums." (Shelf Awareness)

"Phiona’s story ... will break readers’ hearts. Phiona’s perseverance, courage, faith, and hope will have the very same readers rooting for her success." (School Library Journal)

"Part of Crothers's achievement is his presentation of the terrible circumstances millions of people battle every day to sustain themselves and feed their families, nearly all of them lacking the bright, improbable possibility provided by Mutesi." (The Boston Globe)

"TimCrothers powerfully captures the crushing poverty in which Mutesi and herfamily still live." (The Age (Australia))

"Phiona’s story transcends the limitations of the chessboard--her life not confined to the miniature pieces that her hand glides from her side of the board to attack her opponent’s king. No, Phiona succeeding at chess, like the fight to become great athletes for so many impoverished people around the world, has been a game for her life." (Robert Hess, U.S. Grandmaster The Sports Quotient)

"Riveting." (New York Post)

"[A] remarkable story." (NPR, "Tell Me More")

"Wonderful.... A story of resilience and creativity in the midst of immense need." (ForeignPolicy.com)

“So compelling… Crothers writes the story matter-of-factly ... reserving judgment and bias…. It beckons the reader to wonder at the possibilities that lay before Mutesi, and it reminds us of the harsh reality in which she continues to live.” (Charleston Post Courier)

"Crothers provides in-depth portraits of the people and institutions around Mutesi." (Washington Post)

Customer Reviews

It is an amazing story of God's mercy and grace .
N.J. Caldwell
The more people that read this book and let it effect them in a positive way, the better the world will be.
J Myers
I read this book in 2 days--I couldn't put it down.
K. Bonitt

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.

Certainly....not.

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.
Read more ›
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Books and Chocolate TOP 500 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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8 of 8 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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5 of 5 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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