Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Teen review: The Queen of Katwe

The Queen Of Katwe
by Tim Crothers
229 pages
Appropriate for high schoolers
(maybe upper middle school grades)

Reviewed by S.J., grade 6

If you enjoy true stories full of passion, struggle, and inspiration, The Queen Of Katwe is the right book for you! It has 229 pages (not including the Author’s Note) and is geared more towards upper grade teens and adults due to the deep content.

This book is about a young girl named Phiona who lives in Katwe, a slum city in Uganda, and how a man named Robert Katende sheds a ray of light on Phiona’s life, by teaching her to play chess. You learn about Robert’s soccer background and how hard his life was, living in Katwe, and how his backstory is like almost everyone else’s: Rough, hard, and almost impossible to survive. You also learn about how chess opened a door for many kids. How chess became an inspirational game to people as they dedicated their time and love to this game. The children in Katwe, and in Uganda in general, came to inspire Phiona Mutesi and led to a path to freedom through this competitive game!

I LOVED this book. It was sweet and sad, and every page I turned I really began to see how HARD life was for these children. Selling maize (instead of going to school), living in shacks and in poverty, it’s unbelievable how harsh life was and this is still happening today! And then, chess comes in, and people are saved. It’s like their lives depended on chess, and that they could relate to the pieces more than anyone else could. They were playing to LIVE and not just for fun. I was expecting more of an in-depth story about Phiona, but I got facts and stories about many other people who played important roles in making this girl successful. I wish I could learn more about Phiona, and how SHE felt about playing the game. I wanted to see things through HER eyes. However, I enjoyed getting some of the inside scoop by the people around her like Robert. I felt deeply connected to the characters and cried multiple times, and I must say this book was PHENOMENAL!

On the cover of this book you see Phiona and a chess board. It is very simple, but has the key factors of the overall story. If you look at the surroundings, you see that Phiona is in a shack. That’s her home, which doesn’t look as comfy as the house I live in with plumbing and beds. What I enjoy about the cover is, it sums up the whole book. A book about a girl, chess, determination, and how she leaves her home to become an inspiration and legend! I rate this book 5 stars because it was descriptive and really touching!

Editor's note: Burbank Public Library does not currently own this book, but we do have the movie made from the story.

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