Monday, August 15, 2016

The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from BuzzPlant in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

One day in 2005, while searching for food, nine-year0old Ugandan Phiona Mutesi followed her brother to a dusty veranda where she met Robert Katende.

Katende, a war refugee turned missionary, had an improbably dream to empower kids in the Katwe slum through chess- a game so foreign there is no word for it in their native language. Laying the chessboard in the dirt, Robert began to teach. At first chidlren came for a free bowl of porridge, but many great to love the game that- like their daily lives- requires perservering against great obstatcles. Of these kids, one girl stood out as an immense talent: Phiona.
By the age of eleven Phiona was her country's junior champion, and at fifteen the national champion. Now a Woman Candidaet Master- the first femal in her country's history- Phiona dreas of becoming a Grandmaster, the most elite level in chess. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday life in one of the world's most unstable countries. The Queen of Katwe is a "remarkable" (NPR) and "riveting" (New York Post) book that shows how "Phiona's story transcends the limitations of the chessboard" (Robert Hess, US Grandmaster).

My thoughts-

I was so excited when the opportunity to review The Queen of Katwe came up. I had recently seen a preview for the upcoming Disney film and was super happy to learn more about Phiona. I always enjoyed playing chess. I was never great at it, but my 8 year old daughter is and I love watching her grow as she learns more about the game. I love that there is a great role model out there for her like Phiona to look up to and see all of the adversity she has overcome! The book does a great job of laying out exactly how Phiona came to discover chess after following her brother to a church one day. It explains about her difficult and impoverished family life in Katwe and how she wanted to make a better life for herself than her mother was able to do for their family. We learn how Phiona picked up the game quickly and had a natural talent for playing, but trained a lot to get as good as she is. She, a girl that grew up in poverty, has traveled the world, playing chess against the best in the world and holding her own! I love a good success story and I hope to one day look in the news and see that Phiona has succeeded both in her dream to by a chess Grandmaster as well as a doctor. This girl has set high hopes for herself and has already accomplished so much in such a short time. I think more great things are on the way for this talented girl!

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