Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather before him When Sangoel and his mother and sister arrive in the United States, everything seems very strange and unlike home. In this busy, noisy place, with its escalators and television sets and traffic and snow, Sangoel quietly endures the fact that no one can ...
Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather before him
When Sangoel and his mother and sister arrive in the United States, everything seems very strange and unlike home. In this busy, noisy place, with its escalators and television sets and traffic and snow, Sangoel quietly endures the fact that no one can pronounce his name. Lonely and homesick, he finally comes up with an ingenious solution to this problem, and in the process he at last begins to feel at home.
In this uplifting story from the authors of Four Feet, Two Sandals, a boy moves from a Sudanese refugee camp to the U.S. with his mother and sister. “You will be Sangoel. Even in America,” an elder tells him. Yet everyone at his new school mispronounces his name. “In America I have lost my name,” he says sadly, and when Mama suggests adopting an American name, the elder's words “sang in his memory.” Inspired by his soccer team T-shirt (on which a ball replaces the letter “o”) the resourceful child draws a sun and a soccer goal on a shirt beneath the words, “My name is” to help his friends learn how to say his name correctly. Stock's (the Gus and Grandpa series) loose watercolors convey Sangoel's deep-felt emotions, though occasional collaged elements present some jarring juxtapositions (in the scene in which Sangoel and his family leave the camp, a few of the refugees bidding them farewell have photographic heads stuck on their painted bodies, while the others are entirely painted). A concluding note succinctly explains the plight of today's refugees. Ages 6–10. (July)
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
As he prepares to leave the refugee camp in Sudan, the Wise One reassures a nervous Sangoel that he carries a proud name; he will always be a Dinka, even in America, although he has no father or country now. He, his mother, and sister Lili are greeted at the airport and taken through the snow to an apartment where they must learn to use the telephone, stove, and television. Everywhere, even at school, no one seems to be able to pronounce his name. He fears he has lost it and himself, but Sangoel finally cleverly figures out a way to show everyone. The immigrant experience is clearly portrayed in his story. Stock's mixed media scenes have a lively, even nervous quality to their naturalism. The first double-page of Sangoel's life in Sudan contrasts with the life he finds in America. Subsequent scenes focus on people, continuing the theme of the humanistic story. The boy and his family become genuine personalities we care about. The front jacket/cover illustration of Sangoel watching American boys playing soccer with the back showing boys in Africa doing the same carries the book's message of commonality of cultures. A note adds background information. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 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
The authors of Four Feet, Two Sandals (2007, illustrated by Doug Chayka) craft another sensitively written, hope-filled immigrant story, this one featuring a young Sudanese refugee who finds an inventive way to break the ice in his new American school. Sangoel arrives in the United States with little beyond his mother, his little sister and his Dinka name-which everyone he meets stumbles over and usually mispronounces. Rejecting his mother's suggestion that he should perhaps take an American name, he instead goes to school the next day wearing a shirt on which he's written "My Name Is," followed by pictures of a sun and a soccer goal. His delighted classmates follow suit by turning their own names into rebuses. Stock uses transparent colors and thick brushwork to give her tableaux a sense of movement, capturing the apprehension of Sangoel and his family as they travel from a spare, dusty refugee camp to a crowded and snowy American city. 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. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)