The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  118 reviews
children's picture book

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 19th 2012 by Dial
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When his family slowly begins to starve due to the severe drought in Malawi in Africa, fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba decides to do something about it. Although despair over the family's situation could have overwhelmed him once he was forced to stop attending school, William used an English dictionary to help him comb through science books at the library that might help him solve the villagers' need for water and for electricity. The mechanically-inclined young man was inspired by the pict...more
Sidik Fofana
SIX WORD REVIEW: Best kid tales are true ones.
This picture book version of the nonfiction book manages to translate the story of William Kamkwamba with clarity and inspiration. When a drought hit his village in Malawi in 2001 and 2002, 14-year-old William and his family were in real danger of starving. William had always through about machines and even after he was forced to leave school due to the drought, he kept reading books about them. He thought about what could be done with a windmill in his village, bringing light and water. So he h...more
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a nominee for the 2013-2014 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

This wonderful nonfiction book, written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, tells young William's story of life in drought-ravaged Malawi. Instead of accepting things as they were, William visited the village library, learned more about renewable energy, and proceeded to build a windmill that would bring electricity to his village. Although many people called him...more
Yamaly Perez
William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determi...more
Gema Ramirez
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a children's picture book about the author's, William Kamkwamba's life. Born and raised in Wimbe, Malawi, William Kamkwamba was just 14 when he was forced to drop out of high school for lack of school fees, because his family needed every kwacha (Malawian money) for food to survive a deadly famine.

He decides to build a windmill after reading some science books at a local library. He found that, "Windmills can produce electricity and pump water." More than just...more
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind is the story of William, a boy from a small village in Malawi. When his village was hit by a famine, the food that he and his family had planted dried up and, without a way to bring water to their fields, they faced the grim reality of starvation. Unable to go to school, William read books from the village library instead, where he learned about windmills that could generate electricity and pump water. Curious and eager to help his people, William decided to build...more
Brienz Wilkening
What an inspiring story. This is a story about a boy with a very intuitive mind. William lives n a small village in Malawi where everyone has very little. Just to keep their family living William has to stop going to school to help in the fields. Drought hits and the family can no longer produce crops because they can not water them. William get an idea from the books that the reads to himself in the library and he set to work on producing electricity from windmills. I would use this book in sev...more
Melissa Mcavoy
William loves to explore how things work, so when a severe drought and famine devastate his rural Malawian village, William goes to the library looking for solutions. With warm collage illustrations, this remarkable true story of curiosity and determination comes alive as readers watch William forage in the junkyard for materials and then build a machine that makes “electric wind.” A two page author's note provides the back story of how William goes on to build not only and electricity producing...more
I wish I had read this original story, the longer one, but the collage illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon add to the tale, too, of a starving boy in Malawi who used the resources available to change his world, now changing more than that! If you haven’t read about William Kamkwamba and his search for answers in a small library while his family and community starved for lack of water and failing crops, you should. It is a story of grit and determination to solve the problem, and with meager resour...more
Mar 21, 2014 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Fascinating tale of a young man who helped his family using the power of the wind.
This book is based on the true story of William Kamkwamba who was born in Malawi. During his childhood, the people of Malawi suffered through a terrible drought. William's family didn't have enough money to send William to school (which costs money in that country) nor to feed the entire family more than one meal a day. William mourned not being able to go to school and eventually found his way to the public library in his town where he checked out science books. In one of these books, William l...more
This is the picture book version of the story of William Kamkwamba, a 14-year-old boy living in Malawi. In his small village, he dreamed of building things and taking them apart. He wondered about how an engine made a truck go while he worked in the fields of maize. When his village began to starve due to a severe drought, he began to search the American library for answers. He had to translate the English science books into his language. Slowly, hope began to grow. Could he build a windmill to...more
William does a fantastic job of making this autobiography flow. It was easy to read. William grew up in Africa and almost starved to death during a famine. He had to drop out of school so the family would have enough to eat, but he still loved to learn and found a book on physics at the library captivating. He began devouring the book, as well as others about electricity. He found he had a knack for this applied science and decided he would build a windmill in order to have electricity in his ho...more
Pamela Kramer
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer is the touching, inspirational story of a drought-ridden land and a fourteen-year-old boy who worked to change things in his poverty-stricken village.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, and in many illustrations she seems to use cutouts to create strikingly unusual images. Her drawings remind the reader of primitive paintings.

William lived in Malawi, and when a drought resulted in famine, his village was sev...more
Ashley Bell
The book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kankwamba, is a cute story about a little boy. William Kamkwamba was born and raised in Wimbe, Malawi, and was just 14 when he was forced to drop out of high school for lack of school fees, because his family needed every dollar for food to survive a deadly famine that was taking place. William was determined to created a future for himself so he went to a recently-built community lending library and there he saw a picture of a windmill. The b...more
Ricardo Mora
It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.

Enchanted by the workings of electrici...more
This autobiographical picture book tells the story of fourteen-year-old William, growing up in dry Malawi. Drought took a toll on his father's farm, and William was forced to drop out of school because there was no money to pay for it. So he took responsibility for his own education. He walked to the local library (a gift from Americans) and checked out science books of all types. He was interested in them all, but was fascinated by photos and descriptions of a windmill. Determined to build one,...more
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind offers a great sense of science through a multicultural lens. The story of William Kamkwamba, a Malawian boy whose family could not afford to send him to school with crops to take in, provides every student with a sense of struggle in learning. But William's perseverance and determination led him study science in his spare time, until he could make windmills to give his village electricity and fresh water.

William's story is a miracle and the inspiration and passion...more
Janet Frost
I love this story of a young man in drought ridden Malawi Africa. He is a beautiful example of "necessity is the mother of invention". But even necessity doesn't usually motivate the actions we see by this creative young man. He uses scraps and "found" junk to build a windmill to create electricity for light and for a pump to find water for the dry and dying crops.
I was inspired by Kamkwamba's book for adults and so I felt like this picture book was a bit slight, but still it tells such a good story.

Drought comes to William's village in Malawi and crops die. William is so poor he eats only one meal a day, and he has to quit school. The village doesn't have electricity, but it does have a library with donated books. William finds an old science book in English that explains how windmills generate electricity. Windmills can power pumps that draw water up f...more
Feb 26, 2012 Earl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, kids
First of all, I read "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" on the We Give Books website- - since for every book I read on their site I'm helping kids worldwide get access to their own books. It's a real cool and simple idea.

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" is one of those books that was originally written for adults- it was a memoir- rewritten for a younger audience- like "Listen to the Wind" was the kid version of "Three Cups of Tea."

While the story is simplified, the mess...more
Mar 13, 2012 June rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: young students for black history month
A young picture book biography, of a fourteen year old boy in Malawi, who teaches himself to build a windmill to bring electricity to his home, after a drought and famine cause him to drop out of school. William uses the library and deciphers the English science books with a dictionary. In the afterword we discover several years later he built a "Green Machine" which pulled water from a small well and fed his mother's garden. He was discovered by some journalists and invited to speak at the TED...more
Kelsey Jacobs
Read this book and was extremely surprised to find out it was based on a true story; certainly reads like, "Life in Africa sucks, kids, let's donate to the poor people! Look at how awesome we are, giving them a library!" Not the intention, I'm sure. Inspiring message nonetheless.
Very cool story. Made we want to remember my electricity and magnetism better. Also, unsettling to hear how people still live in some places in Africa. The writing wasn't awesome, but English is his second language and it was still a story worth reading.
Terri Van Loon
This is a non-fiction text about a boy who built a wind turbine in order to drill for water and generate power to save his village from drought. This would be a good text to use in a science lesson to teach about alternative forms of energy and also empower students and help them realize that they are not too young to make a difference.
Jillian Warren
This book is a true story about a young boy from Africa that educated himself about wind energy, built a windmill from junk, and brought electricity and irrigation to his village. A wonderful story about determination.
William is just a boy in his village of Malawi. There is no money for lights and farmers were very poor. William’s family was forced to eat only one meal a day because the village was starving. Forced to drop out of school, William researched ways he can “harness” the wind to feed his village.
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind is a true story that students can learn about taking action against poverty. Instead of sulking when he could no longer attend school, he decided to use his research skills to...more
Krista Stevens
Great book to accompany the longer middle/high school/adult version. The pictures are absolutely amazing. I loved the collages and the wind interpretations were beautiful.
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William Kamkwamba was born August 5, 1987 in Malawi, and grew up on his family farm in Wimbe, two and half hours northeast of Malawi’s capital city. William was educated at Wimbe Primary School, completing 8th grade and was then accepted to secondary school. Due to severe famine in 2001-2002, his family lacked funds to pay $80 in school fees and William was forced to drop out in his freshman year....more
More about William Kamkwamba...
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition 10 Common Core Essentials: Nonfiction: Selections from New and Classic Books for the English Language Arts Standards for Middle and High School

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