Author(s): Katherine Paterson
Newbery Medal-winning author of "Bridge to Terebithia" 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. Inspired by true accounts, the novel includes an Author's note and a timeline of Cuban history.
In 1960s Cuba, after the overthrow of the US-backed dictator Batista, the new Cuban government sets an ambitious goal to make its entire population literate within a year. 13-year-old Lora has never left Havana, but despite protests from her family, she is determined to join an army of literary brigadistas.
Risking her life against the dangerous Batista-supporters camped in the wilderness, armed with pencils and notebooks, she joins the rural Santana family, lives alongside them, and teaches them to read.
Lora experiences the full rewards and triumphs of being a teacher to the Santanas and their neighbours, who have been denied education their whole life. But she also becomes their student, taking on the hard work that keeps society running and fills the pantries of people in the city.
My Brigadista Year is a heartwarming coming-of-age story, perfect for a socially conscious reader, aged 8+
From the author of Bridge to Terabithia.
"Through Lora's naive but openhearted perspective, Paterson weaves in details about Cuban history and the events that led to the overthrow of the Batista regime and the rise of Communism...Paterson's story is without political agenda, focusing instead on an improbable (and successful) literacy campaign and how it dramatically expands the world of one sheltered but determined girl." --Publishers Weekly
"Paterson offers a glimpse of the daily life of a brigadista, redressing the cursory associations many have about Castro's Cuba. Hers is a positive study of an amazing moment in history that nonetheless acknowledges the darker political machinations at play...the themes of literacy, freedom, and community stay strong. Educational and inspiring." --Kirkus Reviews
"Motivational and clearly written with purpose and historical interest, Paterson's tale about the need for societal change and the positive impacts volunteering has for young people is important and intriguing." --Creators (blog)
Katherine Paterson is a former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Her international fame rests not only on her widely acclaimed novels but also on her efforts to promote literacy in the United States and abroad. A two-time winner of the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award, she has also received numerous other accolades, including the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, as well as the Vermont Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.
With her late husband, John Paterson, she co-authored The Flint Heart, a wryly retold fantasy illustrated by John Rocco and published by Candlewick Press. In 2000, Katherine Paterson was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She lives in Barre, Vermont.