Thursday, February 22, 2018

Emmanuel’s Dream (Laurie Ann Thompson)

Illustrator Sean Qualls

Target Ages:  5 and up

Genre:  Picture Book Biography

Publisher Summary:
Here is the inspiring true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who cycled an incredible four hundred miles across Ghana—with only one strong leg—to spread his powerful message:  disability does not mean inability.

First Lines:   
In Ghana, West Africa,
a baby was born:
Two bright eyes blinked in the light,
two tiny fists opened and closed,
but only one strong leg kicked.

Best Lines: 
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.

I have seen multiple blogs and sites give this book rave reviews for well over a year. As a result, I was so excited when my local library finally ordered a copy.  To say this biography is inspirational is an understatement! 

The word going through my head repeatedly is “Wow!”  I will admit.  I am a sucker for stories about people who overcome great odds and obstacles to succeed.  This story could not have come at a better time for me, having just failed at something I put my heart and soul into. I have been wondering…do I continue to pursue that path?  Are the obstacles worth it?  Reading Emmanuel’s story though puts life in perspective. 

He is born with a disability in a country where such people are relegated to beggars their whole lives.  He is unwilling to settle for what is expected.  Instead, he hops—literally—two miles everyday back and forth to school to get an education. He does chores like fetch water and pick coconuts. To make friends, he buys the one thing none of his classmates have--a soccer ball.  Emmanuel learns to play the game on crutches.  When his mother falls ill, he moves alone (at the age of 13) to a city to find work in order to send money home. 

What is truly amazing is his determination not just to ride a bike with only one leg, but also to ride across the country! He uses this event and others to advocate for people with disabilities.  According to the Author’s Notes, his work has helped countless disabled people to gain equal status and opportunities in Ghana. 

The story is well-written and engaging.  The illustrations work perfectly with the text and narrative. Mostly importantly, Emmanuel's life reminds us that all things are possible when we face challenges and obstacles with perseverance and hard work. For all those reasons, Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah is a perfect picture book. 

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
Teacher’s Guide
Interactive Read Aloud Template

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  2. One of my favorite stories. Outstanding comment about how Emanuel's story puts life into perspective! A boost for those who have disabilities.

  3. I also love this story. Perfect timing as the Special Olympics are about to commence.

  4. I love this biography so much. When I lived in Nice I got to know a one legged Albanian homeless guy who begged outside my apartment. He cycled everywhere too!


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