Thursday, May 7, 2015
Emmanuel's Dream: the True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. Written by Laurie Ann Thompson and illustrated by Sean Qualls. Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House. 2015. $20.99 ages 7 and up
Mama Comfort told him
he could have anything,
but he would have to get
it for himself.
He learned how to crawl
to fetch water and climb
He even shined shoes for
When Emmanuel is born with a deformity of his leg, his father leaves. In Ghana babies born with a disability are shunned and considered a family's curse. Luckily, his mother has the strength needed to encourage her son to be the best he can be, and not to use his leg as an excuse to forgo future accomplishments. Emmanuel proves to be as persistent as he needs to be and teaches himself to do many of the things that others might have found impossible, including hopping the two miles to school each morning, and then doing it all over again when it is time to return home at the end of the day.
He is ignored by his classmates until he earns enough money to buy a soccer ball of his own; then, he will only share it when he is allowed to play with them. While at school, he also masters the art of cycling. School does not last nearly long enough for the young boy. His mother's illness requires that he leave school to earn money to support his mother and younger siblings.
"He would have to support them.
Against his mother's wishes, Emmanuel snuck out
and boarded a midnight train to the bustling city of Accra,
one hundred and fifty miles away,
It will be two years before he sees them again. His mother is growing weaker and he returns home to be with her. Her death, and her final words, are the impetus he needs to prove something to himself and to the greater world:
"... but he knew
her last words had been a gift.
He would honor them by showing everyone
that being disabled does not mean
Emmanuel makes a plan.. Using his ingenuity, his courage and one working leg, he would cycle around Ghana. With help from the Challenged Athletes Foundation in California, Emmanuel is able to equip himself and begin the training needed to make his dream come true.
"He completed his astounding journey,
pedalling south to the sea and back up to Accra -
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."
The text is uplifting and filled with honor for a young man who works to bring awareness of the abilities of the 'disabled', and the need for laws that protect their rights. He is a worthy subject for this
new book, illustrated by Sean Qualls in mixed media. He fills the pages with color, pattern, and wonderful, beautiful people. Energetic and cultural, they let us in on the journey that is Emmanuel's life - through its tragedies and triumphs.
An author's note adds context and a link to Emmanuel's story, narrated by Oprah Winfrey and entitled Emmanuel's Gift.