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In an engrossing historical novel, the Newbery Medal - winning author of Bridge to Terabithia follows a young Cuban teenager as she volunteers for Fidel Castro's national literacy campaign and travels into the impoverished countryside to teach others how to read.
When thirteen-year-old Nora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro's army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven and her father roars like a lion. Nora has barely been outside of Havana - why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody's kitchen? But Nora is stubborn: didn't her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Nora's abuela takes her side, even as she makes Nora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Nora know for sure when that time has come? Shining light on a little-known moment in history, Katherine Paterson traces a young teen's coming-of-age journey from a sheltered life to a singular mission: teaching fellow Cubans of all ages to read and write while helping with the work of their daily lives and sharing the dangers posed by counterrevolutionaries hiding in the hills nearby. Inspired by true accounts, the novel includes an author's note and a time line of Cuban history.
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Develops empathy with a long perceived American enemy
Thank you Ms Paterson for another journey into our common human spirit. This book develops empathy for the “other” and draws out important questions kids inevitably ask about who the good guy is. This book develops appreciation for the complexity of human interactions and holds out hope that when we live with a focus on service on the small scale, Giant things can happen and the core of human identity can be preserved in the midst of opposition.
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- Lana Whited
I learned quite a bit.
My knowledge of the Cuban Revolution was shaped by my high school Spanish teacher, a Cuban refugee. This book taught me much more, and in an enjoyable way. It is important to listen to the author’s notes at the end to remind us that Fidel Castro was a terrible dictator, but we can also realize that terrible dictators can have some good ambitions, too.