My Name Is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammad tells the story of Sangoel, an eight-year-old boy, who is a Sudanese refugee. His father was killed in the war, and as a result of the war Sangoel, his mother, and his sister are all staying at a refugee camp in Sudan.
My Name is Sangoel is a book that candidly portrays life in America from the viewpoint of an immigrant, and as we follow Sangoel on his journey from a refugee camp in Sudan to a new life in America, we get a rare but honest look into what it is like for children of immigrants to uproot and migrate to a new life, a new culture and a new country.
Sangoel came to America with nothing but his name and his family, and he is proud of his African heritage and his Dinka name that has been handed down to him from past generations. After arriving in America he is faced with losing his name in order to assimilate with the American culture, and he decides to takes measures into his own hands.
My Name Is Sangoel is a story full of fear, hope, curiosity and oddly enough a wonderful sense of humor. It is a book that will make your children think about their own lives, a book that fosters appreciation and empathy, and it is a book that makes your children learn about life outside of America.
I read this story with my seven-year-old son, and as we turned the pages, he became more and more in tune with the story. He noticed the color differences, asked questions, he wondered about why things were happening, he studied the creative illustrations, and he was able to empathize with Sangoel on many levels.
Williams and Mohammad have managed to create a story that not only captures its audience, but which teaches and sparks interest as well while adding a touch of humor The author’s note is a great source of knowledge about families in refugee camps and about Sudan, and it is a very helpful addition to the conversation piece that the books is.
The illustrations add their very own touch to this book, and my son excitedly noticed the computer graphics that had been embedded within the otherwise “hand drawn” images.
My Name Is Sangoel is a book, which I can highly recommend to anyone, who wants their children to be world citizens, to be able to empathize with children of other cultures and situations, and it is a great book to help teach our children about accepting each others’ differences.
Title: My Name Is Sangoel
Authors: Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed
Illustrator: Catherine Stock
Reading level: Ages 4-8 and 9 – 12
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (June 2009)
Disclaimer: Versions of this children’s book review may have been posted on other websites or in printed publications.