cover image My Brigadista Year

My Brigadista Year

Katherine Paterson. Candlewick, $15.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9508-8

Two-time Newbery Medalist Paterson turns her attention to 1961 Cuba in the story of 13-year-old Lora Llera, who volunteers to become part of Fidel Castro’s literacy campaign—to her parents’ dismay. She and hundreds of other volunteers of all ages spend months living with farmers in the countryside, working alongside them during the day and teaching them to read and write at night. (Castro intended to have a fully literate population within a year’s time, and the brigadistas were an important part of that plan.) Through Lora’s naïve 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, though she skirts many of the political hot-button issues that surround Castro’s rule. An author’s note and timeline fill in additional details about Cuba’s past, but 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. Ages 10–14. [em]Agent: Allison Cohen, Gersh Agency. (Oct.) [/em]