A Girl Called Problem

Quirk, Katie (Paperback - 2013 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
A Girl Called Problem

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In 1967 Tanzania, when President Nyerere urges his people to work together as one extended family, the people of Litongo move to a new village which, to some, seems cursed, but where thirteen-year-old Shida, a healer, and her female cousins are allowed to attend school. Includes glossary and author's note.
Authors: Quirk, Katie
Statement of Responsibility: by Katie Quirk
Title: A girl called Problem
Publisher: Grand Rapids MI :, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers,, c2013
Characteristics: 243 p. ; 21 cm.
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Report This Jun 11, 2013
  • savtadina rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I was delighted at the high quality of this book--a well-developed plot, great character development, and great details made this book hard to put down. I learned a lot about the history and culture of some of the people in Tanzania after independence in the 1960s and some of the goals of its first president Nyerere. But mainly the book shows the perseverance of a young girl who seems to have little going for her except the drive to learn and help others. The book develops at a "normal" pace and doesn't have the instant action that many YA novels have. I very much appreciated the distinction. I agree with the comment by another--I did not guess the "bad guy" but the way that Quirk develops the novel makes explanation the "bad guy" quite plausible. I definitely think that this book would also be good at least up to age 14 and adults like me would find it a good read too. Quirk has written an amazing first novel that is not just for young teens but for all who are interested in the topic. Quirk lived in Tanzania for two years, so has knowledge of the area.

Report This May 01, 2013
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Windows and mirrors. That’s the phrase used by children’s literature professionals to explain what we look for in books for kids. We want them to have books that reflect their own experiences and observations (mirrors) and we also want them to have books that reflect the experiences and observations of kids living in very different circumstances (windows). Mirror books can be a lot easier to recommend to kids than window books, but that just means you need to try harder. So next time a 9-12 year-old comes to you begging for a mystery, upset their expectations. Hand them A Girl Called Problem and bet them they won’t be able to guess the bad guy. In the process, you might just be able to introduce that kid to their latest favorite book.


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Report This May 01, 2013
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


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Report This May 01, 2013
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The thing about Shida is that in spite of her name (in Swahili it would be “problem”) you just can’t get her down. Sure, her mom is considered a witch, and every day she seems to make Shida’s life harder rather than easier. Still, Shida’s got dreams. She hopes to someday train to be a healer in her village of Litongo, and maybe even a village nurse. In light of all this, when the opportunity arises for all of Litongo to pick up and move to a new location, Shida’s on board with the plan. In Nija Panda she would be able to go to school and maybe even learn medicine firsthand. Her fellow villagers are wary but game. They seem to have more to gain than to lose from such a move. However, that’s before things start to go terribly wrong. Escaped cattle. Disease. Even death seems to await them in Nija Panda. Is the village truly cursed, just unlucky, or is there someone causing all these troubles? Someone who doesn’t want the people of Litongo there. Someone who will do anything at all to turn them back. It’s certainly possible and it’s up to Shida to figure out who the culprit might be.


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Report This May 01, 2013
  • ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Consolata's Day

A day in the life of a Tanzanian girl in 2013. Provided as a supplement to the novel A Girl Called Problem by Katie Quirk.

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