My Name Is Sangoel
Illustrator: Catherine Stock
When Sangoel's family leaves the refugee camp for their new home, the Wise One tells him, "Remember, you will always be a Dinka. You will be Sangoel. Even in America." For Sangoel, America is big and different and cold. No one can pronounce his name-not Mrs. Johnson, who meets his family at the airport, not the teacher, and not his classmates. Mama tells him, "America is our home now. Perhaps you need an American name." But Sangoel cannot forget the Wise One's words. Full-color mixed-media illustrations.
JLG Release: Sep 2009
Awards & Honors
IRA Children's Choices 2010, Young Readers; NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2010, History/Life & Culture in the Americas
Praise & Reviews
Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:
Booklist, The Horn Book Guide, School Library Journal
Junior Library Guild
Small, concrete details convey Sangoel’s sense of alienation and confusion in his new home. Experiences familiar to readers seem new when narrated from Sangoel’s point of view. Television: “The TV was a box with real people inside. Lili cried when Sangoel turned it on. She cried again when he turned it off.” An airport: “The stairs moved. . . .Doors opened by magic.” Joining the soccer team: “Everyone on the team got a brand-new shirt.”
The vivid illustrations add to the story’s appeal. Catherine Stock draws people in a style that is loose without being cartoonish and sweet without being sentimental. Her visual characterizations help give the book its deep humanity. Sangoel’s loneliness, his teacher’s good intentions, and a classmate’s friendliness are made plain in the characters’ expressions and body language.
Ultimately, Sangoel finds a solution to his identity problem that is as creative and empowering as it is simple. It is the right ending to a story that combines complex themes with the most intimate details.
8 1/2" x 11"
Level 3.2; Points: 0.5;
Scholastic Reading Counts
Level 2.1; Points: 2;