One day in 2005 while searching for food, nine-year-old Ugandan Phiona Mutesi followed her brother to a dusty veranda where she met Robert Katende. Katende, a war refugee turned missionary, had an improbable dream: to empower kids in the Katwe slum through chess - a game so foreign there is no word for it in their native language. Laying a chess-board in the dirt, Robert began to teach. At first children came for a free bowl of porridge, but many grew to love the game that - like their daily lives - requires persevering against great obstacles. Of these kids, one girl stood out as an immense talent: Phiona. By the age of eleven Phiona was her country's junior champion, and at fifteen, the national champion. Now a Woman Candidate Master - the first female titled player in her country's history - Phiona dreams of becoming a Grandmaster, the most elite level in chess. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday life in one of the world's most unstable coun-tries. The Queen of Katwe is a remarkable and inspirational book that shows how 'Phiona's story transcends the limitations of the chessboard' (Robert Hess, US Grandmaster).
Tim Crothers, a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated, is the author of The Man Watching and co-author of Hard Work. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with his wife and two children.