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My Name is Sangoel    by Karen Lynn Williams, Khadra Mohammed & Catherine Stock order for
My Name is Sangoel
by Karen Lynn Williams
Order:  USA  Can
Eerdmans, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

Authors Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed relate the moving story of Sangoel, a young Sudanese refugee, in My Name is Sangoel. His father was killed in Sudan, his family fled in the middle of the night, and the family lived in a refugee camp. They had little, but at least Sangoel had his Dinka name. After emigration to the United States with his mother and younger sister, Lili, he is sad when no one pronounces his name correctly. One day he has an idea, an idea that not only fixes that problem but also helps him adjust to his new country.

It's difficult to write a story for children about another child who has suffered tragedies such as those Sangoel has. Sensitivity, honesty, and empathy must be judiciously woven amongst the other requisite needs of storytelling. Williams and Mohammed accomplish this outstandingly. Illustrations by Catherine Stock capture the sorrowful trepidation, the anxiousness and uncertainty, and the conflicting sadness and anger of the characters masterfully. This uplifting book serves as an excellent means of conveying a refugee's complex emotions, and the importance of a name, to those who hope to understand.

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