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My Name is Sangoel  

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 are resettled in America, things are supposed to be better but life in their new home is strange and lonely.  The refugee camp seems better than this place where no one can pronounce his name and some even make jokes about it.  Sangoel quietly endures the homesickness and ignores his mother’s suggestion that he might want to take an American name.  He finally comes up with and ingenious solution to this problem and in the process begins to make friends and perhaps feel a little at home.

Co-authored with Khadra Mohammed and Illustrated by Catherine Stock in bright detailed scenes this is a poignant story of identity and belonging that will help young readers understand the plight of many children around the world as well as in their own neighborhoods.


Behind the Story

Four Feet Two Sandals, takes place in Peswar, a refugees camp in Pakistan. Khadra and I knew we wanted to write another book about a refuge child after resettlement in the US, a child who has left the camp, an a story about a refugee from another part of the world, a boy this time. My Name is Sangoel again grew out of Khadra’s intimate knowledge of and experience with refugee children around the world. I too was well aware of the importance of names to all peoples as individuals. It is common knowledge that many immigrants and refugees who have come to the United States have had to change their names or for various reasons had their names changed for them. My own grandfather changed his name after emigrating from Hungary. Like Sangoel he felt unwelcome in his new home. He hoped an American name, easier to pronounce would help him fit into a new culture in his new home. In this story Sangoel solves his problem without changing his name.


Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company

Buy the book: Barnes & Noble


Download the Teacher's Guide for this book. [1.5 MB PDF]


© 2013 Karen Lynn Williams