King Peggy : an American secretary, her royal destiny, and the inspiring story of how she changed an African village (M)
by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
"The charming real-life fairy tale of an American secretary who discovers she has been chosen king of an impoverished fishing village on the west coast of Africa.
King Peggy chronicles the astonishing journey of American secretary, Peggielene Bartels, who suddenly finds herself king to a town of 7,000 people on Ghana's central coast, half a world away. Upon arriving for her crowning ceremony in beautiful Otuam, she discovers the dire reality: there's no running water, no doctor, no high school, and many of the village elders are stealing the town's funds. To make matters worse, her uncle (the late king) sits in a morgue awaiting a proper funeral in the royal palace, which is in ruins. Peggy's first two years as king of Otuam unfold in a way that is stranger than fiction. In the end, a deeply traditional African town is uplifted by the ambitions of its decidedly modern female king, and Peggy is herself transformed, from an ordinary secretary to the heart and hope of her community." Publisher
The Queen of Katwe : a story of life, chess, and one extraordinary girl's rise from an African slum (M)
by Tim Crothers
"Phiona Mutesi, is a 15-year-old girl born and raised in a miserable slum called Katwe in Kampala, Uganda. She sleeps in a decrepit mud hut with her mother and four siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been in and out of school her whole life because her mother cannot afford to send her, so she is only now learning to read and write. Phiona Mutesi is also one of the top chess players in the world.
One day in 2005, while desperately searching for food, Phiona followed her brother to a mission church where she met Robert Katende, another child of the Ugandan slums, who works for an American organization that offers relief and religion through sports. Robert introduced Phiona to the game of chess and within months he discovered her immense talent. By the age of 11, in 2007, Phiona was her country's junior chess champion and at 15, her country's national champion. In September of 2010 she traveled to Siberia, just her second time ever on an airplane, to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world's most prestigious team chess event. While there, Phiona proved herself to be on par with the greatest players in the sport and her goal is to one day become a grandmaster, the most elite title in chess, and to blaze a trail out of Katwe that other children in Robert's chess community can follow."
To be African is to be an underdog in the world. To be Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe is to be an underdog in Uganda. And to be a girl is to be an underdog in Katwe. The Queen of Katwe is the ultimate underdog story."-Publisher
The Black Russian (M)
by Vladimir Alexandrov
"The Black Russian is the incredible story of Frederick Bruce Thomas, born in 1872 to former slaves who became prosperous farmers in Mississippi. A rich white planter’s attempt to steal their land forced them to flee to Memphis, where Frederick’s father was brutally murdered. After leaving the South and working as a waiter and valet in Chicago and Brooklyn, Frederick sought greater freedom in London, then crisscrossed Europe, and—in a highly unusual choice for a black American at the time—went to Russia in 1899.
Because he found no color line there, Frederick made Moscow his home. He renamed himself Fyodor Fyodorovich Tomas, married twice, acquired a mistress, and took Russian citizenship. Through his hard work, charm, and guile he became one of the city’s richest and most famous owners of variety theaters and restaurants. The Bolshevik Revolution ruined him, and he barely escaped with his life and family to Constantinople in 1919. Starting from scratch, he made a second fortune by opening celebrated nightclubs that introduced jazz to Turkey. However, the long arm of American racism, the xenophobia of the new Turkish Republic, and Frederick’s own extravagance landed him in debtor’s prison. He died in Constantinople in 1928." - Publisher