My Brigadista Year

My Brigadista Year

Large Print - 2018 | Large print edition
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When thirteen-year-old Lora 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 timeline of Cuban history.
Publisher: 2017. ,
Waterville, Maine : 2018. Thorndike Press,
Edition: Large print edition
ISBN: 9781432849306
Branch Call Number: JF PATE


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PimaLib_SamR May 22, 2019

Katherine Paterson has written another children’s novel worthy of awards: My Brigadista Year. The year is 1961, the location Cuba, and Fidel Castro has called for volunteers to teach fellow countrymen to read and write. Thirteen-year-old Lora, whose uncle died in the revolution, answers Fidel’s call. Despite parental opposition, Lora’s Abuela signs the waiver which gives Lora the opportunity she seeks.
As a member of the National Literacy Campaign, Lora travels to a teacher training camp on the coast. Then she is posted to the mountainous Cuban interior with other student teachers, to fulfill her commitment. The work is arduous, the life rugged. By day, Lora works the land, side by side with her host family. In the evening she teaches to the whole family and some neighbors. And at night she sleeps in a hammock in the kitchen. Although Lora is the teacher, she also learns from her students, and makes lifelong friends of them. She ultimately learns that she is able to effect change and make a difference in her world.
Because of the historical nature of the novel, at the end Paterson includes what drew her to the subject matter, some resources and a timeline of Cuban history.

CHILDREN'S BPL Apr 09, 2019

Cuba 1961

OPL_AmyW Jan 30, 2018

This coming of age story set in Cuba at the beginning of Fidel Castro's rule shares the story of the teens who traveled into the poorest parts of their country and risked their lives to bring literacy to families in need. This book delves into a part of Cuban history that is rarely shared among Americans - a great book for sparking discussion among 4th to 6th grade readers.

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CHILDREN'S BPL Apr 09, 2019

CHILDREN'S BPL thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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Nov 27, 2017

Katherine Paterson has written an interesting and compelling story of a time in Cuban history that I, who was a teenager in 1961, was not aware of. When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, he determined a literate population was necessary for a successful socialist society. In 1961 he called for the formation of a volunteer army of teachers who would go into the countryside and teach those there how to read and write. Those teachers could be anyone that could read and write well. Thirteen year old Lora volunteered to spend a year doing this. Her parents, very much against the idea, reluctantly agreed to allowed her to go. They told her she was going to live among the "savages", with no electricity, running water or other niceties of life in Havana. So she ventured into the mountains after 3 weeks of training. She discovered the "campesinos" welcomed her into their house. But life was hard and dangerous. There were still rebels in the area that threatened the "brigadistas" and their families. But her charges wanted to learn to read and write. This fictional account of that time was excellently portrayed by Paterson. Her visits to Cuba and friendship with 2 women who were brigadistas gave this story a solid basis in fact. At the end is a timeline history of Cuba and a brief description of the program that turned Cuba into an "illiteracy-free" country.


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