This inspiring picture book by author Laurie Ann Thompson tells the moving true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a young man born with a severe disabil This inspiring picture book by author Laurie Ann Thompson tells the moving true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a young man born with a severe disability in rural Ghana who nonetheless bicycled across the entire country, raising awareness for disabled people throughout Africa and around the world.
The book opens with a touching tableau--a beautiful baby boy has been born, but with only one strong leg. We can see the despair in the father's posture and the fear in the mother's eyes as she looks at the baby's father. Disabled children in Ghana were not only considered worthless-they were considered a curse, and the baby's father soon abandons the family. The mother's hope is seen in her naming the baby "Emmanuel," which means "God is with us." Emmanuel's mother refuses to allow her child to become a beggar, as was the custom for disabled people in Ghana; instead she helps him to become self-sufficient, hopping to school, two miles each way. When his classmates scorned him, he saves money to buy something no one in the school had--a real soccer ball, and earns their respect by learning to play on just one leg. When his mother falls ill, Emmanuel moves to the big city to earn money to support his family. Sadly, his mother dies, but he honors her memory by dreaming up a way to show that disabled people could do anything--a bike ride around his country--nearly 400 miles. Support for what others deemed an impossible project came all the way from America, along with the equipment he needed. We see Emmanuel riding across the country, surrounded people cheering, including disabled countrymen. Thompson concludes this inspiring story as follows: "He completed his astounding journey...in just ten days. But Emmanuel's success goes even further than that. He proved that one leg is enough to do great things--and one person is enough to change the world."
In her first picture book, author Laurie Ann Thompson admirably succeeds in her mission of teaching children about social justice issues, a campaign she began in her young adult nonfiction book, Be a Changemaker, a how-to book for young social entrepreneurs. Thompson's tale is enhanced with mixed media illustrations by award-winning children's illustrator Sean Qualls (Before John Was a Jazz Giant and Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat among others). He uses a "primitive" style of illustration, relying on collage and paint to convey the emotion of Emmanuel's story.
An author's note explains that Emmanuel has continued to achieve great things, competing in major athletic events, carrying the Olympic torch, and starring in a documentary about his life, Emmanuel's Gift, which I will be putting on my Netflix queue. He continues to work to help disabled people, particularly in Ghana, realize their full potential.
This is a wonderful book to share with elementary school children; for older children it can be paired with viewing the documentary. ...more
Peter Godwin, born and raised in what was then Rhodesia, tells the story of his boyhood and journey into manhood, which coincided with the civil war tPeter Godwin, born and raised in what was then Rhodesia, tells the story of his boyhood and journey into manhood, which coincided with the civil war that resulted in black Africans taking power from the white Rhodesians who had been there for generations. Required to do military service when finishing high school, Godwin joins an elite unit of the police, and finds himself fighting in a civil war he hates for a dying white government that he doesn't believe in. Eventually he is able to leave the country to attend Cambridge. Returning when the blacks take power, Godwin becomes a human rights lawyer and a journalist covering the atrocities of the new government, which crushes political opposition through terror and murder. The first in a a trilogy of memoirs by Godwin, which together span the period up to the Zimbabwe election of 2008. A moving, highly person story of the transition from white to black rule in Southern Africa. ...more
In this enormous picture book, a young, curious, and bored lion wanders far from his savannah home to find a "job, love, and a future." Where else toIn this enormous picture book, a young, curious, and bored lion wanders far from his savannah home to find a "job, love, and a future." Where else to go for these but Paris, where he is initially scared by the big city, but soon is enjoying a coffee at a famous Parisian cafe, riding the Metro, and visiting Parisian landmarks like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Older children and adults are likely to appreciate the unusual and sophisticated artistic style of drawing mixed with collage but even young children can appreciate the "fish out of water" theme that recalls classic stories such as Babar and Curious George....more
This new book has been getting lots of buzz (author NPR interview, article in LA Times, etc.) and deservedly so. Adichie paints a colorful and movingThis new book has been getting lots of buzz (author NPR interview, article in LA Times, etc.) and deservedly so. Adichie paints a colorful and moving picture of life for two expatriate Nigerians, who meet in high school and fall in love. When they are separated, one moving to London and the other to the US to escape a military dictatorship at home, their relationship falls apart, as they are both changed by their experiences. Adichie's protagonist, Ifemelu, is trying to finish university in the US, and becomes a famous if anonymous blogger commenting on the impressions of a non-American black on race issues in the US. This all takes place against the backdrop of Obama's first run for the presidency. Her canvas encompasses everything from white liberals in Princeton and New Haven to undocumented immigrants who scrub bathrooms when they are university graduates in their native countries. She writes with wit and pathos about contemporary Africa and the United States. Highly recommended....more
Veteran travel writer Paul Theroux takes his last trip to Africa in this moving but ultimately depressing travelogue. He travels from Cape Town to AngVeteran travel writer Paul Theroux takes his last trip to Africa in this moving but ultimately depressing travelogue. He travels from Cape Town to Angola, up the West Coast of Africa, experiencing travel like the locals do, with the exception of a foray to one of the most expensive safari campus in Africa ($4,000/day per couple!) where rich Western tourists ride trained elephants in the Botswana bush. He ends up in Angola, where oil millionaires live in luxury while most of the population lives in urban slums of unimaginable squalor, in a country that's now devoid of wildlife after decades of civil war. A soul-searching travelogue in which Theroux questions the purpose and meaning of his own travel adventures. Well worth reading, especially for those with an interest in Africa. ...more
This is a great series, especially for those who love the First Ladies Detective Agency. A grittier view of Botswana. A loveable detective, Kubu, withThis is a great series, especially for those who love the First Ladies Detective Agency. A grittier view of Botswana. A loveable detective, Kubu, with an appealing family and great supporting characters. ...more
Having recently returned from my first trip to Africa, I was eager to read this new novel by author Shana Burg which takes place in Malawi. Thirteen-yHaving recently returned from my first trip to Africa, I was eager to read this new novel by author Shana Burg which takes place in Malawi. Thirteen-year old Clare has just suffered one of the worst losses a child can imagine--her mother has died, leaving her family consisting of just her and her father, a doctor who seems to care about everyone else more than Clare. At least that's the way she feels when he up and moves the two of them to rural Malawi for several months, where he will be working at the local hospital and she will attend the local village school.
But this novel is more than a "fish out of water" story as Clare struggles to adapt to a completely foreign environment and lifestyle, where she has no cell phone coverage, must wear a totally unfashionable school uniform, and live literally in the middle of the jungle, with no condos, buses, or restaurants. She's so angry with her dad that she's giving him the silent treatment. But eventually the people of Malawi break through her broken heart, helping her to heal.
Burg, who has worked in Malawi herself with Save the Children, manages to capture the many wonders of Africa--the spirit of the people, the beauties of the landscape and animals, and the crushing poverty. Young girls will identify with Clare trying to fit in with the local girls--gossiping about boys and who likes whom seems to be a universally popular occupation--as well as her sorrows and achievements during her trip. And they'll be amazed at how the children in the local school manage with hardly any textbooks (which must be taken for safekeeping from school every day so they won't be stolen), paper, desks, or other ordinary school supplies that we take for granted, even sculpting letters out of termite mounds. Clare, like everyone else who visits Africa, I suspect, is the not the same person when she leaves.
This novel manages to combine humor (naughty monkeys and pet chickens, in particular) with the poignancy of loss in a way which is appealing to the target audience. Burg also manages to teach many lessons about Africa in a subtle manner, without seeming didactic
An author's note explains about the author's trip to Africa to investigate conditions in schools in Malawi and also discusses the challenges of medical care in this very poor country. She also includes a recipe for a Malawi treat and a glossary of Chichewa words that appear in the text. I would have liked to see a map of Africa which would have situated Malawi for the young readers, and possibly a list of nonprofits that accept contributions for medical or school projects, in the case that young people are inspired to help out for these very worthy causes as part of the back matter.
This would be a great book to add to school and public library collections--it's a contemporary story in an exotic setting that should definitely appeal to tween readers. ...more
Another fun story about Mma Ramotswe and her life. In this one she and her Associate Detective sidekick meet the author of the private detective handbAnother fun story about Mma Ramotswe and her life. In this one she and her Associate Detective sidekick meet the author of the private detective handbook that serves as their Bible in solving cases. ...more
This new historical fiction title is inspired by the life of aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic from East tThis new historical fiction title is inspired by the life of aviatrix Beryl Markham, the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic from East to West (considered more challenging than flying East because of prevailing winds). Novelist Michaela Maccoll intersperses the story of Beryl's historic 1936 voyage with Beryl's life as a ten-year old growing up in what is now Kenya, where she lived with her English father on a horse ranch, her mother having abandoned them years before. Her life as a child is filled with endless adventures--attacks by leopards, forbidden treks into the forest with a boy from the local tribe, Kibbi, who becomes her friend and teaches her to wrestle and track and hunt animals. Indeed, she is virtually adopted by the native tribe who take her in as one of their own, allowing her to train to be a "warrior" despite her sex and accepting her as an honorary member of the Nandi tribe.
The novel jumps back and forth between the youthful Beryl's adventures both at home and later in boarding school and a variety of diary entries, fictitious press articles and interviews about her cross-Atlantic flight. I found the parts in Africa much more engaging and vivid than the snippets about her flight; the two themes don't really seem to be tied together, since we don't learn about the beginnings of her interests in flight in the sections in which Beryl is a child. However, Maccoll paints an appealing picture of an adventurous spirit who can't resist a dare, a girl who is more comfortable in boys' clothing and who longs to be a hunter of lions rather than a proper young English lady. It's a good choice for those looking for a colorful adventure story that could appeal to girls as well as boys.
Those interested in learning more about the real Beryl can check out her memoir, West With the Night (North Point Press, 1982), which was praised by none other than Ernest Hemingway, who remarked about Markham's writing, "she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers," or the young adult biography Beryl Markham: Never Turn Back, by Catherine Gourley (Red Wheel, 1997).
In addition, Maccoll includes an author's note providing further details on the real Beryl's life as well as additional suggestions for further reading. ...more
A beautifully written and moving story perfect for animal lovers of all ages. A rare Scottish osprey pair makes a home on a Scottish farm, leading toA beautifully written and moving story perfect for animal lovers of all ages. A rare Scottish osprey pair makes a home on a Scottish farm, leading to an unlikely friendship between two children. As the female bird migrates to its winter home in Africa, the story expands to include a young girl in Africa as well. An easy and quick read but very engaging. ...more