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When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read:


  • From Lisa Barker, for Children’s Book Review; Biblio Reads

A touching and dramatic story that will captivate children and adults.  What I like best about When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read is the immediacy and the connection children will readily make with the child telling this story.  Told in a matter-of-fact way, the story draws the reader into the life of a a young Kenyan boy, submerging the reader in his personal experiences, his family and language.  This book is an opportunity for educators to introduce the daily life and living conditions of poor children in Africa, sparking interest and compassion that can lead to action in the children who are tomorrow’s leaders.


This emotive children’s book not only takes the reader on a journey to the small village of Maseno in Kenya, Africa, but  also into the heart and mind of one little boy, Julius. Author Pamela Sisman Bitterman spent two months working in Kenya, and  states that during that time she got to know Julius very well.  Pamela affirms that ‘his story is the voice of the thousands of needy youngsters just like him all throughout Africa.’  This story is a reality check for all of us. Six year old Julius narrates the story.  He takes the reader on a factual and emotional journey into his life, his family, the people who care about him and the villagers, his language, and his thoughts and dreams. The book’s title is nicely interwoven throughout the book – a little like a chant, but one that has the whisper of sadness yet hope. When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read; The Story Of Hope And Friendship For One young Kenyan Orphan is a well written story.  The language is straight forward but interwoven with beautiful descriptive passages.  I could see and feel the last wavy gold of the sun being swallowed up by the black shadows of night. I could also feel the ‘jiggers’ in my skin.  ‘Jiggers are bugs that crawl under the skin and lay eggs.’This 1500 word non-fiction children’s picture book also offers the reader a little more insight into the world of the children by the inclusion of illustrations drawn by the Maseno North Sunrise Nursery School Children of Kenya, as well as original colour images. These colour images not only capture the physical harshness of the children’s lives, and their physical afflictions, but also the hope expressed in their smiles and laughter.  Despite the harshness of their world, they can still smile and have hope.When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read; The Story Of Hope And Friendship For One young Kenyan Orphan is certain to pull at your heartstrings and make you stop and think.And you can help make a difference.All proceeds from the sale of this book go to the children of the tiny village school where the illustrations were created.


  • From Renee Hand, award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers Series for children

When This is Over, I will Go To School, And I will Learn How To Read, is an inspiring true story about children in Africa who want to be happy and healthy.

This story is about a six year-old boy named Julius. He has never been to school. He lives with his grandmother, sister and brother in Kenya. They live in a mud hut in the forest. Professor Nancy sees the children and tells them that they have jiggers, which are bugs that live under the skin and lay eggs. She tells them that they need to come to her mobile clinic and orphan feeding program.

When they get there the doctor realizes that their condition is far worse then they first thought, so the family is taken to the hospital where they can be treated properly. After their treatment the family is given many things to help them be healthy, like mats to sleep on, clothes and shoes to wear, as well as mosquito nets to keep the bugs away. But will Julius ever accomplish his dream of going to school and learning how to read? It is a mantra he says when he is afraid. A goal he hopes to someday accomplish.

This is a true story of life for children in Kenya. It is a terrifying truth that most people don’t know about. What is amazing is the strength and hope in the Kenyan children and their determination to want to become something more. The illustrations are done by the children and there are real pictures of the children in the story as well. This book will hopefully help bring more awareness to the conditions the children in Kenya must endure but it will also show how the kindness of people prevail. This is a 75 page book that children and parents of all ages will enjoy.


Please see the book trailer for When This Is Over, I Will Go To School, And I Will Learn To Read.




  • From Bev Yohai

I just finished reading “Muzungu” and needed a few days to process what I had just read. This book got me from the first chapter and held me through to the end. There were so many layers to the story; the volunteering at the Maseno Hospital and Orphanage, the conditions in Kenya from both a political and social aspect, the group of people Ms. Bitterman encounters along the way and the crazy adventures when her husband arrives!

In it all, she succeeds in writing from the heart especially when talking about the people she spent the two months with. She has a talent for describing these people, so much so, that you really begin to care about them and are eager to find out more as the story progresses.

But most of all, this story was a deep and very honest look into the author’s reasons for going to such an extreme and different land and how it affected and changed her forever.


  • From Suzi Segal

Just finished Pam’s book, Muzungu. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, although at times some parts were hard to swallow. I think we all need to see the other side of Africa, or for that matter, the other side of any third world country. I fell in love with some of the players in the book and would love to meet them. I feel that this book is a necessary read for anyone who wants to donate money or time to any project in another country, if for no other reason than to see what the real world is all about. Nice job, Pam, i hope they print this book in hardback one day. Thanks for writing this book and pushing to get it published.


Please see the book trailer for Muzungu.


Reviews for Sailing to the Far Horizon:


  • From Danise Hoover of Booklist

“In 1978, Bitterman found an ad in Co-Evolution Quarterly seeking crew members for the Sophia, a tall-ship sailing cooperative planning to circumnavigate the globe. You paid your share and you sailed. If you didn’t know how, those more experienced taught you. It was an irresistible call in a freewheeling era that suited not only her sense of adventure but also her insatiable desire to learn new things. The ship was primitive, the weather sometimes foul, and crew members came and went, but Bitterman took to sailing and the unorthodox life as if she were born to it. It was a grand, three-year ride, but as the subtitle tells us, the Sophia sank, putting an end to the venture with crushing finality. Drawing primarily on the logs and letters she sent home, the author tells this compelling 25-year-old story as if it happened yesterday. And the reader can’t help but mourn the loss of the ship and the crew’s improvised lifestyle, as well as feel the joy, danger, and discovery that the author experienced and never forgot.”
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


  • From The Log

“When Pam Bitterman talks of her experiences on the adventurous but ill-fated Sofia in her late twenties, you can hear that this is a story she feels she can’t keep to herself. Lucky for us, she hasn’t because the result is a book in a class by itself. . . . Bitterman came away with not only a plethora of fascinating tales of world exploration and personal dynamics, but also the wisdom of one who has truly grown through adversity.”


  • From Santana Sailing Magazine

“Although Pam wrote Sailing to the Far Horizon 25 years after the sinking the story is alive and fresh as much is based on her journals kept during her roughly four-year voyage. Her writing is very descriptive, taking the reader through the adventures and near-disasters as she lived them. . . . A well-told tale and wonderful reading.”


  • From Bryan J. Matlen (Sacramento, CA)

This is a truly amazing adventure written by a courageous author who dared to take a risk and sail across the world. Composed mostly of journal entries, the book is written in an honest style that paints the picture of the long voyage out at sea and the hardships its crew endured during its sinking. Overall, I appreciated the honest style in which the book was written and the truthful accounts from the journal entries. The book not only told the story in writing, but conveyed it through its sincerity. I was captivated from the beginning to end, but especially during the end… during the sinking, the aftermath, and dealing with the loss. The accounts of the Sofia and what her crew faced were both fascinating and heartfelt, and they portrayed a vivid picture of what life was like on that tall ship. Whether you’re young or old, the theme of the book is applicable to all. I will forever keep the the story of the Sofia and it’s crew with me and will heed the advice of the author who once said to “have an adventure wherever you can.”


  • From Pio (Orange County, CA)

“I started this book with quite high expectations due to a very positive review I had read in my local sailing newspaper. Unfortunately, after reading the first several pages I almost put the book down. The language at the beginning was laborious and over-written, as if a non-writer was trying too hard to be a real writer. The fact that she states herself to have been an anti-establishment, non-shaving, environmentalist vegetarian when she had her Sofian adventure also made me leery to continue. I am no social conservative but I am too old to enjoy the writings of generally judgmental idealists. The only reason I kept reading was because I really wanted to hear about the Sofia sailing experience and her tragic sinking. Fortunately, the author’s writing got a lot better and she turned out not to be as irritating as I had begun to fear. She wrote that this book is based quite a lot on letters she wrote home over the 3-plus years she was a regular Sofian crewmember. I think these letters provided the base for the majority of the book and so the majority of the book was written well and in a natural way that was also entertaining. Her character came through as solid, life-loving and very accepting of others, contrary to what I had first feared. Her observations about her crewmates and her travels were very interesting and had the right amount of humor. She was also very informative about the technicalities of sailing a tallship without getting too bogged down for non-sailing readers. She was very honest about the people she crewed with, about herself and about the sinking. In other words, this is an enjoyable travelog and the only one available about this unique ship and its last trip so I am grateful she made the great effort of writing a book. Maybe I am being sexist to think some men may be particularly discouraged by the first several pages of the book. But I urge everyone interested in sailing, cruising the oceans and just plain adventuring to stick it out if they are because this is a great story. I also enjoyed noting how modern people on an old-fashioned tallship act just like sailors under stress in centuries past. You still have near mutinies in the doldrums, shipboard power alliances and surprising international incidents. It’s all different yet all the same which is reassuring for some reason. The only dissatisation I felt at the end was that this was indeed a true story and someone who seemed very special, trusting and kind took a seemingly uncharacteristic gamble and lost it all.”


  • From S. Nathanson, Valley Stream, NY

“Ms. Sisman’s book is a thrilling account recalling the rich tradition of 19th century nautical fiction and travelogues of Melville and Dana, or the rich evocative canvasses of Turner. Like so many restless wanderers in search of themselves, Pamela’s memoirs recount an epic journey to exotic ports of call and encounters with people who, without the trappings of our 21st century mall-saturated American culture, manage to maintain serenity, sanity and dignity. At the same time, the book recalls the 70′s and the youthful quests all but lost to the “Baby Boom” generation.

I recommend this book to anyone who’s fascinated with the sea, with travel articles and memoirs, and to anyone who has ever suffered a traumatic experience and lived to move on. I’d welcome a sequel about the reunion of the crew, should this be possible.

Gripping, descriptive, yet embued with both nostalgia and horror, “Sailing” riveted me from start to tragic finish.”


  • From Dave Bricker

I came across this story of the Sofia because a sailing friend of mine, upon whose story my own second novel Waves: A Novel by Dave Bricker is modeled, had an encounter with the ship in the Caribbean during the 1970s. Though my account of that meeting is highly fictionalized (and as yet unpublished – look for “Currents” towards the end of 2011), I became intrigued with the story, and purchased this book to supplement my research.
I cruised a small sailboat solo during the 80s and 90′s, and though my own story is quite different from Pam Bitterman’s, I can appreciate any book that approaches seafaring authentically. Times have changed not only for tall ships, but for cruisers in general. There was a magic “golden age” of cruising that took place at the end of the twentieth century before “yachting” became a sport of the rich. “Shoestring sailors” odd-jobbing their way around the globe are fewer and farther between these days, and the remarkable stories of those people, places and times are worth telling. As a University professor, I see the concept of “just going” to be sadly inconceivable to young people today. That, in itself, is an important message. Likewise, if you go sailing, you’ll have the best and worst times of your life. Sailing to the Far Horizon neither glosses over the seasickness, heat, dampness and hard work nor dwells on the almost unbelievably profound beauty of the best of the experience. It’s measured and balanced.

Though some have accused Bitterman of overwriting, there is a great tradition of Victorian seafaring literature by Conrad, Melville, Dana et al. As a sailor on a tall ship, it’s only natural to write with some extra flourish. I found the prose to be an excellent balance between that tradition and today’s postmodernist “get on with the story” style. Though the book is set in small type, rather tightly packed, it’s well-edited and moves along articulately, without getting bogged down. As the Sofia took on no passengers, only crew, the story asks the reader to “learn the ropes” along the way, but does so without pedantry.

Sifting through old photographs, log books and letters, to write and reconstruct any remarkable story is a difficult labor of love, especially when passing decades blend together people and places encountered along the way. Stories such as this are not written for the bestseller list; they are a gift from the writer to those lucky enough to receive them. This is what small presses and self-publishing are all about.


  • From Traditional Sail Professionals

Ms. Bitterman,

You are why I started sailing in the first place; I found a copy of your book in a library in Williamsburg, VA (where I was working on the replica boats at Jamestown Settlement) way back in 2005. Within a year I started sailing on tall ships, and eventually found myself working at the San Diego Maritime Museum (I tried to hunt you down so I could express my gratefulness). Life came full circle when I joined the crew of the Kwai in 2009, the cargo sailing ship in the South Pacific and met the owner and Captain, Brad Ives, and made the connection between him and Sofia.

Thank you so much for your writing, your journey, and your passion.

- Elan


  • From Jennifer Dempsey; Director of Member Services, Education & Youth

I just had to write to tell you how much I enjoyed your wonderful book and the incredible, amazing adventures you shared in it – right up until the ship’s sinking, which left me completely in tears.  You don’t know me, of course, so that won’t mean much to you but I promise you that doesn’t happen very often.  I just came inside from having sat on the back porch finishing the book.  My soon-to-be 17 year old son looked up and asked me how my book was.  I just looked at him and said it made me cry.  Wow… when I first met Rigel [the author's son] last month and he eventually told me your story, it was a wonderful story… but I had no idea.  As soon as he introduced himself I commented on his name, telling him I’d never met anyone with that name before.  He simply explained it was from a star that was used in sailing and very casually said “my parents are big on sailing.”  End of story… I thought.  It wasn’t until later on that day over lunch that he let me in on the full story.  Then he told me you’d written a book and I couldn’t wait to get it ordered!  I thought it would never get here.  Oh, and when I talked to my husband that night and told him about it, he remembered hearing about your rescue!  From the moment I first opened the book, I was mesmerized.  I don’t know if it was because I am such a “landlubber” from Oklahoma… (can’t get much more landlocked than we are here!) or what, but it was just fascinating.  I know nothing about boats.  Nothing.  Boats have always kind of scared me, actually… I’m a bit claustrophobic and the idea of being completely surrounded by water has never been an appealing thought.  However, I loved the idea of a woman… a young, single woman… being so capable, competent and independent as to do something so completely out of the norm and having such great adventures doing it.  That was what most appealed to me about your story going into it, I think.I never expected, however, to get so much more than just a tale of adventures.  Your book is so much more than that.  I love that your ship was a cooperative. I think one of the things the world today is missing is that cooperative spirit… the ability to work toward something greater than ourselves… for the good of the many, not just the few.  I know what it feels like to touch lives in a way that’s not forgotten.  I know how good that feels.  And I know you do, too.  That’s what jumped out at me from the pages of your book – the amazing connections you made with people all over the world. You made impressions on people whose contact with outsiders was very limited though… I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you found out that you are the stuff of legends in some of the places you visited.  How cool is that?   I’ve often told my children that it’s not what you do in life that matters nearly as much as the connections you make with other people. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed yours.   Thank you for touching my life.  Now I’m going to end with a line I stole (borrowed) from a presenter I heard in a meeting just last week…. Enjoy your journey.


Please see the book trailer for Sailing to the Far Horizon.

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