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My Name Is Sangoel Hardcover – June 1, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1–3—When eight-year-old Sangoel comes to the United States from war-torn Sudan, everyone mispronounces his Dinka name until he has the bright idea to make a rebus of a sun and a soccer goal on his T-shirt. This simple story puts a child-friendly spin on a common immigrant experience as the child's classmates respond with similar puzzle pictures of their own names. Stock's mixed-media illustrations include scenes from the sun-drenched refugee camp, the U.S. airport with its confusing messages, and the family's new home in a snowy city. The diversity of the boy's schoolmates is evident in Stock's skillfully detailed watercolor and collage illustrations. An endnote gives more information about refugees and refugee camps as well as about Dinka naming practices. This picture book by the authors of Four Feet, Two Sandals (Eerdmans, 2007) is an excellent addition to the growing body of immigration stories for young readers.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD
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Children's Book Council, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People (2010)
International Reading Association-Children's Book Council Joint Committee, Children's Choices (2010)
Maine Association of School Libraries, Chickadee Award Nominee (2010)
Pennsylvania Library Association, Carolyn W. Field Award, Honor Book (2010)
Children's Africana Book Awards, Noteworthy (2010)
Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award, Nominee (2011)
Arkansas Diamond Primary Book Award, Finalist (2011)
Keystone State Reading Association, Keystone to Reading Book Award Nominee (2010-2011)
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), Choices (2010)
Friends of the Roanoke County Public Library, Roanoke Valley Reads (2011)
Junior Library Guild, Selection
United Society of Friends Women International (USFWI), Reading List
School Library Journal
"A sensitively written, hope-filled immigrant story. . . Though a skinny eight-year-old with downcast eyes, Sangoel is such a picture of quiet dignity that readers will come away admiring his courage and self-possession."
"This is the gentle story of one refugee boy from Sudan and his adjustment to life in his new country, the United States. . . Through soft watercolors and the occasional torn photo or fabric collage, Stock's illustrations let the reader understand exactly how Sangoel is feeling and what a tremendous challenge it is to move to a new country and continent. . . Most schools in America have refugee children or children who are adjusting to a new culture and language; this is a book. . . that should help build compassion in many classrooms."
Top customer reviews
Sangoel was the "man of the family" at age eight and he knew how to speak English because he had learned it in the camp. The snow was swirling as the family stepped out into the street to learn a different way of life, a life that Mrs. Johnson would teach them about. Even eating with a fork would be something Sangoel would have to learn. He would also have to go to school to learn new things for the Wise One told him that "Education is your mother and your father." No one could pronounce his name correctly, not even the teacher. He whispered it, but no one seemed to hear. How could Sangoel let them know his Dinka name, a name that was so important to him?
This is a touching story of a young boy who wants everyone to know just how important his heritage and Dinka name are to him. Sangoel's feelings and emotions are clearly understood, not only in the text, but also by the emotionally charged artwork. This is one of those "special" tales that will make the young reader appreciate the diversity of not only children like Sangoel, but all children who may seem to be a bit "different" than they are. I loved this book and can full understand why it is a Junior Library Guild Selection. In the back of the book there is a brief vignette on refugees, Americanized names, and the fact that these days "more people choose to keep the name that connects them to their heritage."
This is a great story for introducing young children, ages 4-8 to the hardships faced by young immigrants. Though it is set in the United States, the story of immigrants coping with life-altering changes as they move to a foreign land (due mainly to oppression and war in their home country) is one that is universal. Many youngsters these days take the basics of life for granted - having a home, food, and clothing is seen as their right, and not as something they should truly appreciate. This is a book that might help them realize not everyone is as fortunate in having all their basic needs met. The illustrations by Catherine Stock vividly capture the hardships and adjusting phase of Sangoel and his family, and I'd highly recommend this book as a must-read.