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My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed


If I had to describe the book, My Name is Sangoel, written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, and illustrated by Catherine Stock, in one word that would be it. But I don’t have to describe it in one word, so...

In the book, My Name is Sangoel, Sangoel is a refugee and in the USA. No one can pronounce his name. Can he find a way to help others pronounce his name? Find out when you read the book.

I see Sangoel (Sun-goel) is shy and quiet. At the airport, Mrs.Johnson says Sangoel's name wrong. This is what Sangoel does. Sangoel shakes his head and kept his eyes on the ground. “My name is Sangoel,” he said softly. Notice he shakes his head instead of saying no, in my opinion, that means he’s shy. Also in the text, it says he said softly to me that means he said quietly.

A similar thing happens later in the text. Sangoel was on his first day of school and his teacher introduces him but says his name wrong. This is what Sangoel does. Sangoel lowered his head. He remembered the wise one’s words and held his anger inside. “My name is Sangoel,” he whispered but no one heard. To me, when it says he Sangoel lowered his head, it means he shy. Also, he whispered when he said: “My name is Sangoel.” That means he quite. These are just some examples of why Sangoel is shy and quiet.

In the story, it was illustrated as it was painted. To add to this, there are a lot of imperfections. This is important because in most books with pictures, the drawing doesn’t have imperfections on purpose. But in this book, it does. First, this makes this book look unique. Secondly, it helps readers connect to the story by showing that it’s not perfect. Personally, I love this message because it not written in the text. Instead, it’s shown in the pictures. This is not the main message but that does not mean it not an important one.

The main message of the story is that you should always be yourself. For instance, in the story, the old man said to Sangoel, “Remember you'll always be a Dinka. You will be Sangoel. Even in America.” Some words to remember are remember, always, and you will. These all are saying, in a way you will always be you. I think this is the message because there is lots of evidence for it. Another time the story shows us evidence for this is at the end. I’m not going to spoil the story, so you just have to read it.

If I was going to recommend this book to a certain age group, which I am, I would recommend this book to 3rd to 5th grade students. I think this book would not be good for kids that are younger than 3rd grade because the topic is serious. Plus, there are some words I think would be too hard for younger readers. I think right in between, such as a 4th grade student, would be the best time to read this book. The words would be just right, and they could easily understand it.

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